WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A Potsdam church believes hate speech was directed at it because of its strong and public support of Black Lives Matter.
The words are so vile we have to black out most of them. It was a private message to Potsdam Presbyterian’s Instagram account - full of racial slurs against Blacks and whites who aid them.
“It’s because we’ve been very vocal lately about our support of people of color in America and our stance against racism,” said
Katrina Hebb, Potsdam First Presbyterian Church minister:
Rev. Hebb thinks it may have been prompted by a sign in front of the church that says, “Rather than color blind, choose to be color brave. Black lives matter to us.” The church also supports of Potsdam’s Black Lives Matter.
The sender of the hate speech claims God is on his side.
“It’s a theology of hate,” said Hebb.
Hate is not new to the church. Its Pride rainbow flags get trashed regularly. The church decided to email unedited versions of the Instagram messages to its congregation.
“Our board felt that it was important for our congregation to experience the un-sanitized version of what this person was spewing at us,” said Hebb.
The messages were reported to Potsdam police. They say such hate speech has to contain an actual threat of violence to become a hate crime. But they are keeping track.
People at Potsdam Presbyterian aren’t the only ones saying they’re being subjected to hate speech. Members of Black Lives Matter say they’re subjected to the same thing at their nightly protests in front of the nearby post office.
Those protesting there say 95 percent of reaction is positive. When it’s not, the most frequent thing shouted at them is “all lives matter” and “white lives matter” - sometimes mixed with swear words.
“They’re yelling and they’re so angry and they drive away fast and it’s just a complete rejection. Like Black Lives Matter, like we’re assaulting them. It just hurts,” said Cassidy Danboise, Black Lives Matter member.
Black Lives Matter led a march of hundreds in Potsdam in early June.
A Back the Blue parade and rally are planned for August 15. Black Lives Matter plans to counter-protest.