Friday, September 11, 2015

"Black Lives Matter" Yard Targeted Again in Columbia, Illinois

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Vandals have repeatedly targeted Sue Dersch's signs. - COURTESY OF SUE DERSCH
  • Courtesy of Sue Dersch
  • Vandals have repeatedly targeted Sue Dersch's signs.

Last week, we wrote about a family just across the river in Columbia, Illinois, whose Black Lives Matter signs were repeatedly vandalized. Sue Dersch, the family's matriarch and a nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, told us that someone covered the sign with stickers saying "all." Someone cut out the word black." Someone even spray-painted the "v" so the sign read "black lies matter." It wasn't until they left a dead possum in the yard that police decided to install surveillance.

But that wasn't the end of the story.

Over the weekend, someone once again crept into the Derschs' yard. And this time, they spread four canisters of salt all over her garden and the plantings around her maple tree. Then they chucked her Black Lives matter sign into her neighbor's trash.

Dersch called the police. But while they pulled the surveillance footage, it was sadly no help:  "They saw something, but not enough to ID the person," she says. They're now installing a second camera.

Dersch sounded disappointed, but not defeated. "I really figured the person who was doing this knew we were putting in a camera, and that this was the end of it," she says. "I was quite surprised." She spent some time working to get the salt cleared away before the week's rains, and is hoping there will be no long-term damage to the plants or the soil.

But there is a silver lining to the series of incidents. On a Sunday, a young man knocked on the door with a sack of treats from Daily Bread, the bakery in west St. Louis County. There was a gooey butter cake, pastries, cookies — and a white envelope with $20 inside. The note indicated she should use the money to buy more signs.

Dersch was touched. "I now know of a half-dozen like-minded people I would have never known before this," she says. "There's a group of us! And I'm sure there's a lot more we don't know about. It's just really been this positive piece of this — finding all these allies in the community that we never would have found each otherwise."

And as for that sign? Dersch took it out of her neighbor's trash, smoothed it out, and put it right back up. "It was bent, not broken," she says. Kind of a  good metaphor for the entire region.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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