An unknown vandal spray-painted a swastika over a Waldo resident’s Black Lives Matter sign on Friday night, escalating prior confrontations over racial-justice activism in the area, the sign’s owner says.

Louisa Carl, who lives on Poors Mill Road in the Waldo County town, woke up on Saturday to a red swastika spray-painted on the sign she attached to her mailbox.

In an interview Saturday, Carl said she took the incident as a threat. Carl has two biracial children, and the vandalism came after a previous Black Lives Matter sign was stolen from her yard.

“It’s definitely a threat and a warning,” Carl said. “I’m half Jewish. I know what a swastika stands for. Am I going to back down? No.”

Carl said she reported the incident to police as a hate crime. A Maine State Police spokeswoman said Saturday that the agency is investigating, but declined to share more details because of the ongoing inquiry.

Racial justice protests have sparked confrontations in Maine since the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year. On Deer Isle in June, someone hung a noose from a telephone wire, along with a sign reading “White Lives Matter,” not far from a “Black Lives Matter” sign.

That incident, as well as the swastika vandalism in Waldo, were accompanied by face-to-face confrontations during racial-justice demonstrations. Carl said that, during protests in nearby Belfast, drivers occasionally slowed down to shout epithets at demonstrators or walked up to argue in person.

“It’s just another way that hate is showing itself in our community,” Carl said of the vandalism on Saturday.

Not long after police arrived to investigate the vandalism, a man wearing a Trump hat came by to offer his support, Carl said. The man, who said he lived nearby, offered to help paint her a new sign, she said.

“That was a really interesting little twist,” Carl said.

Carl also posted about the incident on social media, and was heartened by the outpouring of support she received. But she also said she wanted moments like these to inspire Mainers to confront racial bias, which has long simmered in the majority-white state.

“That’s great,” she said of the support on social media, “but I feel like there needs to be a conversation here in Maine about the racism that’s been happening here.”

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