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'This is no surprise to us': Webster Groves churches hit with graffiti, backlash for holding BLM vigils

The City of Webster Groves released a statement calling the markings "racist graffiti"

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — For 17 weeks, Webster Groves residents have gathered at the corner of Lockwood and Elm.

The event, itself, is scheduled to last for 30 minutes.

However, a specific eight-minute and 46-second window is set aside for silence, with exception for the reading of names and ages of Black lives that were lost at the hands of police.

"A member of congregation called me on a Friday morning and said 'I think we should have a vigil,'" Reverend Wendy Bruner said.

Rev. Bruner, who leads Peace United Church of Christ, said it took less than five hours for the vigil to be organized. The church, which has a history of supporting a number of social justice causes, has hosted the vigil ever since. 

During the vigils, people kneel and hold signs that read "Black Lives Matter" or black-and-white photos of the men and women they're honoring. Following the vigil, participants can stand on the sidewalk and hold their signs as cars pass.

There are many honks of support. 

There are also people who are vocal about their opposition. 

"We have people driving by, saying what they say," Bruner said. "One person had a bullhorn. That's intentional, you know, having a bullhorn to yell at us. You don't just leave your house with a bullhorn."

Bruner said the church is no stranger to having BLM signs vandalized and stolen as well as flags and signs the church showcases in the support of the LGBTQ community and certain legislation. 

However, recently, the church was hit with graffiti tags in seven spots. 

"I expected something was going to happen to the church, but I didn't know what," Bruner said. 

The tag read "13/50". 

"So, it's because 13 percent of the population is African American and this idea that 50 percent of murder or criminal activity is committed by that 13 percent," Bruner said. "Of course, that's incorrect. That's misinformation."

The City of Webster Groves released a statement calling the markings "racist graffiti". This came after the same symbols were found at nearby First Congregational Church of Webster Groves and a resident was sent an anonymous letter asking her to remove her BLM sign from her yard.

RELATED: 'It's a campaign of hate': Webster Groves family receives letter calling for removal of BLM sign

RELATED: 'It’s not going to stop us' | Churches in Webster Groves vandalized by hate speech

Bruner said, she isn't surprised by the attack but she isn't going to back down either. She said her church is not an "activist church", they are simply walking out their faith. 

"There's nothing activist about it," Bruner said. "We're just following Jesus. That's what we're doing."

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