An act of vandalism and an act of kindness, all in the same day

  • Chris O’Connor and Sandy Dustin outside their South Street home in Concord with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign that was vandalized. They now put their sign up on their second floor. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Chris O'Connor and Sandy Dustin in their South Street home in Concord on Thursday, September 9, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Chris O'Connor and Sandy Dustin outside their South Street home in Concord with the 'Black Lives Matter' sign that was vandalized where someone took off the word 'Black.' They now put their sign up on their second floor. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/15/2020 12:23:46 PM

Both the vandalism and what happened right after were signs of the times, so to speak.

Sandy Dustin and Chris O’Connor had a Black Lives Matter sign outside their neatly kept South Street home, which stands out with its red metal roof and rainbow flag out front. Around Labor Day someone chopped off the word “Black” from the sign leaving just words “Lives Matter.”

Similar signs have been targeted around Concord, including one at the Unitarian Universalist church on Pleasant Street, which had the words “Blue” and “All” spray painted on their signs in two separate incidents.

“I was really annoyed that somebody would cut off the word,” Dustin said. Rather than resort to vandalism, she wished someone had left a note explaining their point of view, that way, maybe they could have had a conversation.

“We're more alike than we are different,” Dustin said of the opposing viewpoints in the country. “And we want the same thing. We just don't know how to talk to each other.”

O’Connor understands that everyone has strong feelings and some people disagree with the sign’s message – or even don’t understand it – but that’s not a good enough reason to deface someone’s property.

“Part of being American that we tolerate other opinions and with the sign being cut down, I think that's what bothered me the most,” he said. “I know this stuff happens in every political time, but this is my property and these are my opinions, our opinions. And if you don’t like them, you can put up your own sign or go to a protest, but you have no right to vandalize our property.”

Right next to the sign is a little micro library that O’Connor built where people can take a book and leave a book. The same day the sign was cut, someone left a letter addressing the vandalism.

“BLM is a fundamental movement and long overdue. All lives can’t matter until black ones do,” the letter read. “I realized my frustration would not do anything to change that it happened, but there was one thing I could: a small act of kindness.”

The words meant a lot to Dustin and O’Connor. 

“I walk by every day on my way to work and your place is a beacon of love and light on the street. Not to mention: acceptance,” the letter said. “You are the shining example of what the world needs right now.”

The next day, one of O’Connor’s friends got him a new Black Lives Matter sign. This one he hammered right onto his house under a second story window.

The sign and its message means a lot to Dustin and O’Connor, but it was the words of the anonymous female letter writer that added a little brightness.

“I hope this letter makes you smile and reassures you that not everyone in the world shares the mindset of those who defaced the sign,” it said.


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