Racist, Homophobic Banners Found At West Lafayette Church

Racist, Homophobic Banners Found At West Lafayette Church

Racist, Homophobic Banners Found At West Lafayette Church

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN — Police are investigating racist and homophobic messages found at a West Lafayette church Sunday morning, and the city’s mayor is planning to speak at an event in response to the messages, according to reports.

The event, "Stand for Love, Sing for Justice," will be held Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tippecanoe County, where two banners were found hanging from the playground fence Sunday morning.

"Police are still processing evidence," Mayor John Dennis said Monday, according to the Journal & Courier. He told the J&C Sunday that he was "so f—— mad," about the bigoted messages.

"We’re standing on the side of love, we’re standing for human rights in all shapes and forms and so we think the signs were by white supremacists," said Pastor Charlie Davis, according to WTHR.

One banner referenced Jackson Browne, known for progressive stances. Painted on a large roll of paper, it read "Jackson Browne ni—- f– sp— lover." The J&C reported it is unknown why Browne was referenced, but in May 2017, West Lafayette police received complaints about fliers distributed that contained an anonymous death threat to Browne.

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The May 2017 fliers, J&C reported, said "Hey, you p—- college liberal’s (sic), its (sic) Trump time now, shut your mouth or pay the consequences!! Just like this (piece of crap)!!"

The second hateful banner said "Die f—er just like Los (sic) Vegas," and the word "Orlando." These are most likely references to the brutal massacres in Las Vegas in October 2017 and Orlando in June 2016.

Fifty-eight people were killed and 851 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. Forty-nine were killed in and 58 were wounded in the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.

Editor’s note: the photos below are edited to cover offensive words. If you want to know the specific language used, or to see the photos unedited, please e-mail the editor at geoffrey.dempsey@patch.com.

Image provided by West Lafayette Police Department
Image provided by West Lafayette Police Department

It’s possible that the banners were displayed in response to the Resistance Fair, an event run by progressive groups on the anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, which was held Saturday.

While the police are processing evidence, Dennis said, "The rest of us are making sure that we respond to people who have questions, comments and concerns," the J&C reported.

Lt. Jonathan Eager of the West Lafayette Police Department said they are working with forensics to identify the maker of the banners.

Eager said there was no threat of violence in town, but only towards Browne in Orlando. Regardless, police are increasing their presence in the area to help ensure safety in the community.

The community is rallying behind the church, joined in opposition of the banners’ messages. "This community has been wonderfully supportive," Davis said.

The Journal & Courier published a letter from the city’s fourth graders, condemning the banners and giving the city’s grown-ups some sage advice. "We think what happened Sunday morning is not acceptable. We disagree with everything that happened 100 percent. We believe that words can hurt. When you use words the wrong way, it can bring down other people. If you use them the right way, it can help this community come together," the letter said.

It’s also been reported that Orlando police are increasing security at a Tuesday night Jackson Browne concert amid the hateful messages.

@OrlandoPolice will increase security at Jackson Browne (@SongsofJBrowne) concert tonight after violent threats and hateful banners were posted at Unitarian Universalist Church in West Lafayette on Sunday. Full statement below. @WestLafayettePD @WLFI pic.twitter.com/rXTVmiNZe3— Trevor Peters (@TrevorPetersTV) January 23, 2018

You can see Mayor Dennis speak at the church, 333 Meridian St. in West Lafayette, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Police will be at the event to help keep it safe.

Have you been a victim to or have witnessed a hate incident? Tell your story here.

Article image provided by West Lafayette Police Department

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Lewis Rice

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