A Black Lives Matter banner that has been on display outside the Maine Jewish Museum in Portland for more than a month was defaced and then ripped down this week.

A fabric sign supporting Black Lives Matter at the Maine Jewish Museum has been vandalized. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, someone cut the word “Black” from the banner, which is hung from the fence in front of the museum on Congress Street, said board president Steven Brinn. On Tuesday night, someone ripped the banner from the fence and threw it in a parking lot.

Portland police took a criminal mischief report on Tuesday but have no investigative leads, said Lt. Robert Martin. He said there have been no other recent reports of similar vandalism in the city.

Security cameras at the museum are not working because electricity to the building has been turned off following a fire in May.

“(Police) felt it was strictly a case of vandalism and not a hate crime, but I’m not so sure about that,” Brinn said.

Brinn said the vandalism is “very sad and frustrating.”

“I’m guessing that whoever did something like that would probably yell the loudest if their right to free speech was taken away, yet they are taking away someone else’s free speech,” he said. “I would love to speak to the people who did it so I can try to understand their thinking. I’d like to understand what possessed them to do something like that.”

Brinn said the board of the museum and Etz Chaim Synagogue voted unanimously to hang the banner in a spot that is typically used for banners about programs and art exhibits. They chose that spot for a BLM banner because it is in a high-traffic and high-visibility area.

“We wanted to show our support and continue to show our support,” Brinn said. “Every time something gets taken down, we’ll put something up.”

A replacement BLM banner has been ordered and will be hung outside the museum. The banner cost roughly $75 to $100, Brinn said.

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