Vandals deface Black Lives Matter sign at Bedford church

·2 min read

Since the Bedford United Church put up a Black Lives Matter sign a few months ago, the mostly white congregation has had a taste of the racism and hate boiling just under the surface in their community.

"I have been in public spaces in the Bedford area where people have publicly accosted me as the pastor who brought this filth into Bedford," Matthew Fillier, the lead minister of Bedford United Church, told Information Morning in Halifax.

Angry letters and phone calls came in, and one person even drove up next to the church and threatened members of the congregation, telling them to take the sign down.

Then on Wednesday morning members of the church discovered "Hail Satan 666" marked on the sign.

Someone also threw bricks through a window in the church's sanctuary and stole half a dozen collection plates and a cross.

Fillier believes the vandalism and the break-in are connected although he has no proof.

Bedford United Church
Bedford United Church

"We got just the slightest taste of what it's like for Black and Indigenous and people of colour in this province and in this community every single day who have to deal with systemic racism and intimidation and anger and hatred just for being who they are," said Fillier.

The church put up the sign to support the Black Lives Matter movement and to show people that the congregation is an ally to Black and Indigenous people, along with other people of colour.

The church decided to put up the sign after George Floyd was killed by police in the United States last year.

"We know we have work to do as a predominantly white congregation," said Fillier. "We know we have to engage white supremacy, white privilege, systemic racism and in particular anti-Black racism."

Despite the vandalism and harassment, Fillier said many people in Bedford have come out to support the church and its stance.

Bedford United Church
Bedford United Church

Soon everything at the church will be back to normal. The broken window will be fixed, the stolen collection plates will be replaced and its Black Lives Matter sign will be restored.

"We will not walk away from this," said Fillier.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.