Owners to keep defaced Black Lives Matter sign in Orange as symbol

  • The “Black Lives Matter” sign on privately owned land off Exit 67 in Orange has again been defaced. The landowners, Mike Magee and Constance Pike, this time have no plans to immediately repair or replace it. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2021 5:19:49 PM

ORANGE — The “Black Lives Matter” sign on private land off Exit 67 has again been defaced, but the landowners this time have no plans to immediately repair or replace it.

Mike Magee and Constance Pike say the 8-by-4-foot sign — splattered Sunday morning with paint — now better than ever delivers the point they have been trying to make.

“I think it speaks eloquently right now of the racism in the town of Orange. And they threw orange paint, too,” Magee said. “I think I’m going to leave it for a while. It sends the message that racism is alive and well in Orange.”

Magee said the sign — in front of the barn across the street from the property he shares with his wife — has been defaced at least a dozen times. It has had used motor oil smeared onto it and it has been painted over with the words “All Lives Matter,” a popular rebuke of “Black Lives Matter.”

Magee and Pike said the Orange Police Department has been helpful in pursuing the culprits. Chief James Sullivan said if any perpetrators are apprehended they would likely face a felony vandalism charge. He said his department’s officers will investigate these cases as far as the evidence will take them.

“We would love to find the people who did this and charge them with a crime,” Sullivan said. “Bring them in front of a judge — that’s our ultimate goal. So we’ll do whatever we can to make that happen.”

But Pike said she and her husband would not want to press charges. She said they would rather sit down and have a conversation with the culprit to ask why he or she felt the need to deface a sign. A psychotherapist for 40 years, Pike said acts like this are the result of anger and fear that your social standing is being taken by someone previously on a lower rung.

Though they have no affiliation with the Black Lives Matter organization, Pike and Magee have organized “Black Lives Matter” vigils in Orange’s Memorial Park every Saturday since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis Police officer in May 2020. They and fellow demonstrators have been met with hostility by some people walking or driving by. The harassment recently evolved to physical threats, so Pike and Magee made a public appeal for additional protesters on Saturday. The next morning, the couple noticed the sign had again been defaced.

“At first, I was horrified, of course,” Magee said, adding that he and Pike saw the vandalism after returning from errands. “The paint wasn’t even dry yet.”

Magee, a former teacher at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School, said uneducated rural whites are not incorrect in believing they have been treated unfairly throughout American history.

“But they’re blaming the wrong people,” he said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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