A man vandalized a Black Lives Matter sign in front of a City of Ithaca alderperson’s house on Monday morning in an act that was caught on video.
Recordings from security cameras outside of Second Ward Alderperson Ducson Nguyen’s house show a man parking his bicycle on the Cascadilla Street sidewalk before sneaking up to Nguyen’s porch and appearing to spray blue paint on his Black Lives Matter sign.
Amber Gilewski, a Tompkins Cortland Community College professor who is married to Nguyen, posted a photograph on Facebook showing that the couple’s yellow sign had been marked with a large, blue “B.”
In addition to a photograph of the vandalized sign, Gilewski also posted security camera footage showing that the graffiti act occurred around 5:15 on Monday morning.
The marking, Gilewski and others speculated, may be intended to represent Blue Lives Matter, a pro-police campaign founded in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I like to remind people Ithaca isn’t as always as progressive as people think it is,” Gilewski told The Sun, adding that since Donald Trump assumed the presidency, “people with these thoughts feel more emboldened to act on them and say things to people that they may not have done before.”
The spray painted sign was first spotted by a neighbor, Ron Drummond, who sent a message to Nguyen and Gilewski alerting them of the vandalism. After receiving Drummond’s text, the Cascadilla street couple checked footage from their home’s security cameras, which they installed in December after another item in their yard was repeatedly removed.
On the tapes, a man is seen biking by the couple’s home, propping up his bike with its kickstand and creeping up to the porch, where he appears to spray paint the blue “B.” The recording, captured early in the morning, is grainy and it is difficult to see any features of the man, who is wearing a baseball cap and a long-sleeved shirt.
Gilewski said she put two signs up in front of the house shortly after Election Day in November — the Black Lives Matter sign and one that says, “I love my Muslim neighbor” — to “show support and solidarity” with groups who may be more concerned about life under a Trump presidency.
A month after she put the signs up, Gilewski said, someone began removing and messing with a miniature cat on a rainbow bike in front of the house, ripping it out of the ground multiple times and stealing it at one point, forcing the couple to get a new one.
Several local Black Lives Matter signs in Ithaca were stolen last summer, including that of Seph Murtagh, also a Second Ward alderperson. Gilewski believes whoever stole her and Nguyen’s sign was likely someone who had passed by it several times previously.
“We have a lot of foot traffic on Cascadilla [Street] … so people are always coming by,” she said. “I’m sure it’s someone who has seen it before — they’ve probably been fuming over it and this is their payback.”
Gilewski said people should not be concerned about her or her house, which now has splotches of blue paint on its porch, but rather the people who have to deal “head on” with those who espouse anti-Black Lives Matter beliefs.
“I’m definitely getting a new sign,” she said. “If anything, it makes me want to stand up even further and, really, it’s not even about me or the signs.”
“This is exactly why this sign needs to be here and why the Black Lives Matter movement exists,” Gilewski added, “because people are showing, in their minds, that black lives don’t matter.”
Watch the full video below.