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Black Lives Matter banner ripped down from Westport church for second time in past month

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WESTPORT -

A "Black Lives Matter" sign outside a Westport church has been vandalized for the second time in the last month.

A pastor at Westport's Unitarian Church says they had just rededicated the banner less than a week before. Another banner was torn down in late August.

Now all that is left of the display is the metal frame that the banner was placed in.

The Rev. John Morehouse says the banner first went up last October as a way to get people talking, not as a way to be divisive. 

"This is bringing what is obviously a very national conversation into the community, and we've gotten lots of support, lots of donations for new banners," says Rev. Morehouse. "We have enough money for three or four, so we're just going to keep putting the banners up because we think the conversation needs to continue."

Morehouse stressed that the message behind the banner is one of inclusion and love.

Another sign was recently placed next to the banner that reads "Hate Has No Home Here" in multiple languages.

The sign comes from a national campaign against hate that Westport teacher Kerstin Rao brought to the area in August.

"We did take some criticism from the community at first, but it opened up a dialogue, which is really the purpose of this," says Rao.

First Selectman Jim Marpe says while it's not known whether the vandals are from Westport, the town won't tolerate it.

"The fact the banner is being taken down at all indicates there is a need for a continued dialogue," says Marpe. "There is a need for the continued understanding that black lives need to matter as much as other lives."

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