National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., installed three Black Lives Matter banners Jan. 6 to protest racism, support democracy and push back against white supremacists who have torn down previous signs, Interim Senior Minister Amy Butler said.
The 16-foot banners were hung Wednesday morning between the Roman columns of the Disciples of Christ church just blocks from the National Mall where Trump rioters gathered to protest Congress’ anticipated certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Some protesters en route to the Mall were coming up the steps as the banners were being installed, Butler said. Some were taking photos of the banners, and others stopped to complain about them.
The church has had previous encounters with white supremacists, she said. “We had a small Black Lives Matter sign torn down twice and our neighbor across the street had theirs torn down repeatedly. Metropolitan AME two blocks away had theirs burned.”
Responding with bigger signs on a day when those protesters were present is both a rejection of white supremacy and declaration that Black lives matter, Butler said.
“As a national and a historically white church, it’s even more important that we take up the banner to advocate for racial justice. We are using this platform to advocate for our neighbors and for what is right.”
In a news release about its banners, National City Christian Church said the Black Lives Matter banners replace ones quoting the words of South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth’s poem, “One Hundred Thousand Names,” which were intended as a response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Butler said use of the space is designed to communicate the church’s effort to be a place of healing and hope in a turbulent world.
The church’s banners generated news coverage while a television station in Washington, D.C., reported that several protest groups had received permits to demonstrate at the Mall and near the White House. Some of the protests later turned into a riot, with insurrectionists storming the U.S. Capitol.
Trump appeared at a “Save America Rally” Wednesday morning where thousands gathered to hear him falsely claim the election had been stolen.
Many of those supporters saw the Black Lives Matters banners at National City Christian Church shortly before the rally.
“We’ve had a lot of Trump supporters stop by to talk, and I have had some walk up to give me money like a donation for the church,” Butler said before the day’s events later turned historic. “It’s certainly causing quite a stir.”