Commentary: Our disappearing Black Lives Matter sign

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The house with the sign, now missing.

Our Black Lives Matter sign has been taken out of our yard four times. The first time I found it in our recycling bin. The second time a neighbor returned it because she found it tucked behind her house. The third time it was thrown into our garden. This last time, we haven’t been able to find it.

We got our sign at church: the Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Another member had generously purchased a whole bunch of signs and was giving them away to folks who were interested. We wonder if anyone else has had trouble with their sign.

My husband and I and my mom live in a house across the street from the Edmonds Center for the Arts, so our sign has been seen by lots of folks. We put it there because we’re concerned about the racism we see and we want to be counted as folks who will stand up for everyone’s rights, including people who, historically, have been oppressed. Because we know something of what that feels like. Our family includes many who were killed by the Nazis in concentration camps in Poland. In fact we lost everyone who was there during that time. Luckily my mom’s grandparents had immigrated to the United States before the war broke out, but their siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone who didn’t get here were killed during the war. Just for being Jewish.

But that’s not the only reason we had a Black Lives Matter sign. We recognize the painful history of white supremacy and oppression that is part of our country’s heritage. And we want to make a different kind of future. We’re going to try to find another sign. But in the meantime, we wanted you to know why we put the sign up.

— By Rachel Maxwell

43 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Rachel Maxwell, and thanks to your family. If we ever change for the better, it will be because good people like you have raised your voices to denounce oppression in all its forms in our country and in our community.

  2. Thank you, Rachel Maxwell! Keep up the good work and fight for what is right! Actually you are a brave person to put a sign such as that one up, where vandals can take it out! You have many people who read My Edmonds News every day, and I’m one who doesn’t live live Edmonds any more, but feel the same way you do. I hope more people who do live there will find ways to support you, because I do from afar. Maybe you can find a sign that can be affixed to a wall instead! Too many people are too afraid to show their beliefs as you have done. Oppression is never good anywhere, obviously! Take good care!!!

  3. Thank you Rachel Maxwell! We stand with you against racism and oppression and appreciate you raising awareness to what is happening in our community.

  4. I am so sad to see this is happening here too. My family just moved here from Georgia because we want to belong to a diverse, inclusive community. I am so grateful there are people like you willingly to stand up for the marginalized and traditionally oppressed.

  5. Thank you for unpacking the whys for us. And for wanting a safer and inclusive community for all.

  6. I’ve passed your house several times while walking with my son and commented to him how I wish we could put up that sign in front of our house. But we live in an apartment with no yard, up on the 3rd floor. I hope you get your sign back. I love the many messages it sends.

  7. Thank, you Rachel! The constant removal of your sign is further proof that we continue to live in a world of hatred and oppression. Those who continue to hate based only on one’s exterior appearance are ignorant and insecure and operating from a place of unwarranted fear.
    People like you who stand up to this hatred are heroes in our community and should be applauded! Let’s all continue to spread the message of acceptance and mutual respect!

  8. You put a divisive sign up at a place where you expect public access. There’s no excuse for many things, like theft. It’s not your fault the sign got stolen. However, you put a sign up to make a statement, hoping it would get stolen so you could write this article. It’s classic Virtue Signaling. A BLM activist shot 17 police officers in Dallas, killing 5. Id never organize with groups that harbor those types of extremists. Because of BLM, and their message which which has led to violent riots, police have stood down in cities where BLM has been most active. Blacks are killing blacks more often now in cities, like Baltimore, where murder rates are now on parity with the 80’s coke epidemic. Black Lives Matter has caused more Black Lives not to Matter. BLM started off by rioting and chanting “Hands Up Dont Shoot”. Michael Brown’s hands were not up, he was punching an officer in his squad car and going for his gun. BLM is not objective, and is a failed campaign from its inception. I think all lives matter, so I’m Pro-life, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a Pro-life sign on my lawn were stolen. I also support all individual choice, so I’m Pro-Choice. That sign would get stolen too. Even statements we all believe in are designed to divide, so people who want civil unity always have to adjust their language. MLK, who favored peaceful, non-violent demonstration, would have never supported BLM. He would probably of called on the morons who are taking your sign to knock it off too.

    • Since you appear to know the mind of Ms. Maxwell better than she does herself, and since you are able to speak so glibly for Dr. King, might one humbly suggest that rather than limit yourself to criticism, you simply go ahead and tell us what God wants us all to do to solve the problems of the world? We don’t all enjoy such omniscience: surely it is the responsibility of one who does to enlighten us all.

      • I can’t say for a fact what Ms Maxwell’s agenda is, but I’m probably close. I apologize if I am off the mark. Political signs are designed to frame in your position on things and I am basing what she believes on what the group her sign represents believes. I can’t say what god wants (I’m atheist), but I can say for a fact what BLM wants. BLM leaders have released lists of demands over the years. The #1 thing BLM wants is for white people to will a person of color their house, so that their house doesn’t go to anyone else white. BLM also wants a separate society, where black people can live without white people (this is very Malcolm X, and very anti-MLK). BLM wants reparations. The yard sign is great, but get your money out and give them that house if you really support them (nice house btw). I don’t think Edmonds should create a separate part of town just for people of color.

        Here are some demands:
        https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/black-lives-matter-releases-policy-agenda-n620966
        https://www.leoweekly.com/2017/08/white-people/

        There are several websites where you can pay reparations:
        http://www.reparations.me/

        • She made her “agenda” quite clear: “We put it there because we’re concerned about the racism we see and we want to be counted as folks who will stand up for everyone’s rights, including people who, historically, have been oppressed.” Perhaps it is time to stop projecting too much into other people’s “agendas” and take their very clear word for it. Moreover, she posted it in an effort by her church — can you let us know what the church’s “agenda”?

        • Nathaniel, you’ve moved my needle on this. I think you’re right. “Everyone’s rights” isn’t a phrase a true BLM supporter would use, nor would they roll in an anecdote about the holocaust when advocating BLM. Supporting “everyone’s rights” is the antithesis of the BLM movement, as supporters take that comment as placating the movement and talking about other races is seen as insensitive to the movement. Bernie Sanders felt the Bern on that exact issue when he accidentally said “all lives matter” at a debate. Then this is how BLM treated him right here in Seattle:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbfGuMwjK6k (Pakman is very left for eveyone’s benefit)
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coaFExC6xVw (Martin O’Malley became a second-tier candidate by saying “all lives matter”)

          Rachel Maxwell, I apologize if you’re unsure about the mechanics behind BLM. It’s a leaderless, and esoteric group that’s hard to follow. I’ve really wasted my life by keeping up with this stuff. This whole thread may not be something you signed up for. Good intentions are sometimes punished, but I hope ppl learned about BLM a bit. My rant on this is n’uff said. Best to you everyone.

    • Sometimes your statements have some basis which are interesting and cause us to think in different ways. Basically that is good but your comment: “However, you put a sign up to make a statement, hoping it would get stolen so you could write this article.” causes us to wonder how you can make such a statement that suggests you have knowledge of writer’s intent. Sounds much more speculative than factually based. Personally that statement cause me to discount the other thinks said that may well have had some merit.

      • These are minor incidents, but they are elevated to tragedies. I think local politics have proved, beyond a doubt, that people are more happy if there are racists afoot so there would be something to point to, whereas there really isn’t anything to point to. Its vindication of divisive political strategy in a world that really gets along by and large. Cable news and even our own city government have sensationalized things in this vein. ***I could be wrong on this particular case, but all the key concepts are there… Edmonds has a sign-stealing racist, our country is a history of oppression, the sign theft invokes genocide and Nazis. What country doesnt have a history of racism and oppression? The sign theft seems to prove we’re all still racists, it’s very Original Sin-esque. This is one of the greatest countries on the planet. Edmonds is one of the greatest towns in one of the greatest countries on the planet. Why put all this dirty laundry out there? Some jerk, like me, somewhere, should point out that BLM is a counter-productive, divisive organization. Some jerk should point out that all political yard signs are the target of theft – it’s not right, but that’s the nature of politics. I am sorry for coming off as a jerk. There is a public service to this.

        • Reading your comments, it is clear that you have a very interesting and unique perspective on the world and to intimate that someone would intentionally want a yard sign stolen is odd. The BLM movement is one of awareness and reminding everyone that all lives matter, including our black community, which to some still needs to be called out. That we even have to point out that black lives matter is sad, but necessary. I’m wondering how you feel about the #TimesUp or #MeToo movements?

      • Thanks Renee. I want to point out that “all lives matter” is a real trigger in the BLM movement, just like “you people” was when I was a kid. There really isn’t any winning to the wordsmithing that these groups want these days. #MeToo needed a movement to happen because those who were preaching to the world about woman’s rights were those harboring, providing a safe space, for sexual exploitation. I think about half of women who went to Harvey’s hotel room are victims. I think the other half of the women who visited Harvey in his hotel knew what the terms were, knew that going through Harvey was an entry barrier for other women who wouldnt acquiesce, thus used it for professional competive advantage, and were the first to sweep real victims under the rug to maintain the status-quo. I simply don’t believe Hollywood anymore. People I really respected as actors and producers were criminal hypocrites, and most of the rest are accessories, even as they wear black dresses on red carpets.

    • From the My Edmonds News rules regarding conduct:

      My Edmonds News users agree to not do the following:
      – abuse, threaten or verbally attack other members, individuals
      – post libelous… material or content… or other slurs
      My Edmonds News readers will:
      – resist attacks, insults and threats and instead remain civil and focused on the ideas being presented rather than the individuals expressing them;
      – promote interactivity and dialogue that supports real community collaboration
      Our anti-flaming/baiting policy:

      According to Wikipedia, “Flaming is the hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. An Internet user typically generates a flame response to other posts or users posting on a site, and is usually not constructive, does not clarify a discussion, and does not persuade others

      • I’m not making threats or being hostile. You just disagree, so you’re pleading to authority. Nathaniel, I love your debate and you’re usually inclined.

      • Mr Brown, I was only ask a question about Mr Ritcherson’s source. And by offering my statement that I was discounting the rest of Mr Ritcherson’s statement I did not mean to be attack or insult Mr Ritcherson. Since Mr Ritcherson’s very next comment was a response to my post I appolige if I created a anti-flaming/bating situation. I will try to be more careful and more objective and more thoughtful of my posts.

        • Thanks Darrol. I admit, I don’t know if the sign was put out with intent to offend someone. Lets all admit though, no matter the political sign, we all know someone will be offended, and we put them out anyway.

        • Mr Haug, if you took my post as referring to you, I apologize; I’m not very good at making comments land where they ought to.

      • Being that most people who disagree with me ask MEN for me to be censured/censored, instead of directly taking on a point I am making, I find it amusing that Darrol thought he was being censored, and it proves a point I’ve been making about editorialization in other threads. MEN comments are not a Safe Space. You both write great stuff, and I find both of your writings as true contributions. Do you agree that burning down gas stations and chanting “Pigs in a Blanket, Fry em like Bacon” is unbecoming of a true civil rights organization? Can we all agree that “Hands Up Dont Shoot” was a lie that set back genuine issues of excessive uses of force?

  9. When they steal 1, put up 2 more. When they steal 2, put up 4. Shine a light on the signs all night. Cowards work in the dark.
    Better yet, let’s all put up a sign.

  10. Thank you for putting up the sign. Please keep renewing it – despite the vacuous idiots that think removing a sign (how brave!) proves something, it only proves what cowards they are, and renewing the sign encourages the majority who believe that we are all equal in dignity and worth.

  11. Thanks to Rachel Maxwell for standing up for human rights.

    Matthew Richardson, your claim that Rachel puts the signs up to promote her views is correct, it is called the first amendment. Your “argument” that she does this to “tarnish”, (I am paraphrasing your intent), a particular group is absurd. Reminds me of the perverse logic employed when the anti-gun law absolutists expound that “lawbreakers don’t care about the law so why bother to enact gun control statutes because they will not be 100% effective”. No law is 100% effective! By this logic one might as well have no laws, and we all fall to the mercy of a “good guy with a gun” philosophy to protect us.

    • I am pro-people putting signs out. I am pro- people pointing out that BLM is a terrorist organization (a party that uses violent for political means, see Dallas shooting and riots). I am anti-sign theft. Gun laws?

  12. We have all kinds of signs to view in our town. Political Candidates, Vote for Schools, Vote for the Library, and Home for Sale. Some are legal and some are not. Many get stolen. Evidence of when and where they are stolen suggest some events are just plain vandalism and some are opposition folks. Go see the 3 bill boards movie and see have happens when people express their opinions with a sign.
    I do not share the view of Matthew that BLM is a terrorists organization any more than his views about the real estate industry in some earlier MEN posts.

    Here is a thought on BLM as an idea. Yes BLM but somehow we have not solved and in some cases even tried to solve the issues of pointed out by those who post the signs or talk able BLM. Just a couple of points.
    1.If BLM and one problem is police sometimes shoot blacks, and whites. Why we do not all agree to reduce all police shootings by all of us acting in a way to not come close to having a police person shoot. If we all followed the slogan mentioned, “Hands up Don’t Shoot” fewer people would get shot. If people of all colors would follow some common sense rules and police commands we would have fewer people shot. Running away, taunting, reaching for your pocket or waist band are invitations to violence.
    2. Black and Hispanic kids do not graduate at the same rate as Whites and Whites do not do not graduate at the same rate as Asian. So I would guess the BLM folks want graduation rates improved for all the kids that are not shot by police or other kids.
    We have proven ways to make improvements on 1 and 2 so I would suggest we try to make some progress instead of trying to make points that will not help solve 1 or 2 or whatever we come up with as a issue folks want to solve.
    These things came start right here in Edmonds for Edmonds Citizens. We are after all a “Safe City” so lets make it safer with all of us trying to find way to not get shot. We can also work on research based solutions for our schools as well. So lets get goin on solutions.

    • Dad’s are the solution. There’s no greater indicator dropping out of school than being raised by a single parent in a community that is predominantly single-parent. Its got less do di with race than anything. Also, too often, cops are tasked with doing a job that doesnt serve a public good. Stop and Frisk, lock him up if he has weed, is a NYC thing, not a WA thing. California’s prisons are an internationally recognized human rights violation, not WA’s prisons. Can’t we at least say we’re doing pretty good? If anything, this rhetoric is driving black people out of the Seattle area in droves. Black people don’t want college educated white women sticking signs up in their yard. It’s uncomfortable.

  13. So for starters lets provide a male figure for all kids who do not have a Dad they can rely on. That’s how big brother big sister works. All the rest of the stuff does not help fix anything.
    No we cannot say we are doing pretty good. My work with the School district in a number of capacities over the years suggest we can do better and should not rest on some rhetoric statement that says “we’re doing pretty good” We are not doing pretty good and we can do better so lets work on solutions. I think CA prisons are human rights violations because they are not following the law on overcrowding.
    We should probably be careful to not dig this hole any deeper and find water. It is against the law to have a well in Edmonds. Or at least in my neighborhood it is.

  14. The notion of Hands up don’t shoot is a good one. I had an unusual encounter with the Edmonds Police with me, and old white guy, a white police officer, and two people that were non white. When this was all coming together at lighting speed I made the deliberate decision to keep my hands outstretched away from my body and in plain view of the officer. When the officer announced he had the right to arrest anyone of us, I further asked the officer what information he needed to figure out what was going on and how to resolve any potential conflicts. Long story short the issues were resolve quickly and safely. To me the slogan of Hands up don’t shoot is really symbolic of what all citizens should actually do while interacting with police. I am making to comment that as a citizen I think I know how make sure their is no reason for the police to shoot me. If I were stopped while driving I would be sure to have my hands on the wheel and not in my brief case or console or under the seat. A smart person or a person trained to be smart should do the same and let the police to their job. If I was standing with 4 other people when a police person was try to sort out an issue and if I had my hands on my head or in plan view and the others had them in their pocket, the probability of me getting shot would be much lower then the other 3. That is all I am saying. To me it would be wise for whites, Hispanic, Asian, and blacks to all follow the concepts of Hands up don’t shoot. If we all did that their would be fewer people of any color shot. This is not a political statement or a position statement by any group. It is in my mind simple common sense. ANY group that wants to make their people matter and make sure they do not get shot should advance that idea.

  15. You have every right to post your sign. I’m Hispanic, where is your sign supporting me? Do you only support Black people?

  16. So many signs get stolen. ask the family that puts out a anti Alaska Airlines sign. I’m not for BLM definitely disruptive and dangerous. I believe all lives matter. I do support your right to put it up. (On your property). I SUPPORT our police and I do Not believe they are mostly anti black or prejudice. I always get my signs stolen for my preference for a particular political party. I didn’t make the news. .

  17. I think it’s great to get involved. Find something local to do. That will have the greatest impact.Mentoring is one way to help, especially if parental support is missing. I believe and research shows that reading to a child from a very young age produces great results. Ten minutes a day will help.
    I like to give books as baby gifts. I am in the infant stages of putting together a small book/pamphlet about how to help young children to learn. I plan to give it to new parents.
    Avoid categorizing people who may differ from you in their political stances. We all benefit when we listen and learn.

  18. Well said Rachel. I lost family in the same way as you. That said, I think I would still be on board with the Black Lives Matter cause. The irony here is that while this vandal has exposed him/herself as a racist, probably bathing themselves in a false an hypocritical sense of patriotism, they are also clearly un-American, or at at least not in favor of the first amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech as a right. Get another sign!!!! Gary

  19. Thank you, Rachel and family for speaking out. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”, from the I Have a Dream speech, 1963.

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