Black Lives Matter signs defaced in Waupaca

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:32 PM CDT
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WAUPACA, Wis. (WBAY) - In the city of Waupaca, police have gotten reports of sign vandalism, but the signs aren’t promoting a political candidate.

“This sign has been up for about a month and a half now, and I came out one morning and found it was defaced with black spray paint,” said Sophia Butkiewicz.

Butkiewicz says she made her Black Lives Matter sign shortly after George Floyd was killed.

“It was definitely in protest and in standing in solidarity with people of color,” said Butkiewicz.

Her neighbor’s sign which said “Black Lives Matter” on one side and “I am with you” on the other was also spray painted on both sides.

The vandalism is now prompting a bigger conversation.

“Honestly it was not surprising to me; I was surprised it didn’t happen sooner,” said Butkiewicz. “I’ve lived in Waupaca, this small town, my entire life and I’ve seen racist acts from a younger age on.”

“It’s not just that ‘Oh, a sign, a cardboard piece of box that got vandalized,’ that’s the step to something more,” said Renee Margalski.

Margalski, a person of color herself, no longer feels comfortable going out in her own hometown among the people she grew up with.

“Just because I’m afraid of what people will say or think or do, and it hurts me,” said Margalski. “Like I’m afraid to go out in public because I don’t want to get judged or feel like I have to look behind my back all the time just because I’m going to walk down the street.”

Butkiewicz notified Waupaca police and says the officer was understanding of why she was so upset, which she appreciated.

“It’s common belief it seems that this sign means that I don’t respect good police officers or that I think we need to completely obliterate the police system, and I don’t think that that’s true,” said Butkiewicz. “I think that there are a lot of good officers out there, but I do think there needs to be some reform in the system.”

Butkiewicz and Margalski find it disappointing that anyone in the area would feel the need to deface signs supporting people of color.

“I grew up with most of the people in this community and I’ve seen so many people grow up in this community and I never thought someone, or other people, or someone would be so hurtful and not care about anyone else’s feelings,” said Margalski.

“It makes me feel disgusted quite frankly because, you know, human nature we’re supposed to love and support one another,” said Butkiewicz. “It shouldn’t be something that’s so divisive and it’s become a politicized thing when it’s really just about supporting your fellow human beings.”

Both agree vandalism is not the way to bridge any differences.

“People just feel like they are emboldened to do whatever they want to defile people’s public property just because they’re opinions may differ,” said Butkiewicz. “But I think that gets away so far from what we need to have happen which is discourse, and calm and collected discourse, to move forward to solving issues and making things better for everyone who lives here.”

“I understand that you have your beliefs and your opinions and, you know, you should totally respect other people’s opinions and beliefs but you also have to realize being cruel and having a malicious aspect to something is totally [not] right, it’s not professional, it’s not courteous,” said Margalski.

Margalski hopes this incident will create more change in the future.

“I hope that, just because of this small little sign, that this starts to go in people’s minds and be like ‘We need to start changing, because this is not what our community is about,’” said Margalski.

Mayor of Waupaca Brian Smith sent Action 2 News a statement:

The Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a Trump campaign sign was damaged. They say someone was captured performing wrestling moves in order to purposefully damage political signs in the New London area.

The sheriff wrote that people must respect each other’s property and rights “regardless of political affiliations or personal feelings.”

Happy Friday Everyone! Deputy Barden is investigating a damage to property/trespassing complaint that recently occurred...

Posted by Waupaca County Sheriff's Office on Friday, July 31, 2020

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