Rockford Church 'Black Lives Matter' Sign Looks Good As New, After Withstanding Damage

Sep 2, 2020

Black Lives Matter signs and paintings are being vandalized across the country. And it’s happening here in northern Illinois.

Sometime over the weekend a long banner with the words Black Lives Matter was splattered with white paint at the Rockford Unitarian Universalist Church.

Black Lives Matter sign after it was painted over.

The banner has been restored, after a church crew cleaned the paint off Monday afternoon.

Rev. Matthew Johnson, the senior minister of the church, said he saw the damage when he came to church on Sunday. 

“I wasn't shocked,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this happened.’ And originally, I thought, ‘we would need to buy a new sign.’” 

He said there are some people who base their position of hierarchy on the color of their skin, and who are committed to a racist position that Black lives don’t count. 

Johnson suggested that whoever defaced the banner may have that type of mindset.

He explained what Black Lives Matter means to him.

“Until we live in a world, in a society that treats Black lives with respect and dignity and equality,” he said, “then we are not living in the beloved community where all people get to flourish.” 

Restored sign after the clean-up.

Johnson shared that he is more interested in what the sign means to Black people.

Johnson is asking those who are upset with the notion that Black lives matter to look inside their rage and fear, and find a sense of connection that isn’t based on the color of their skin. 

He said the church will continue to fight for justice and equality.  

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at