EAST AURORA, N.Y. — When he first saw it, Rich Moglia-Cannon was left wondering why someone would deface the Black Lives Manner banner on the outer wall of his church.
“I thought how sad it was that somebody was hurting in their heart so much that they felt the need to do this,” Moglia-Cannon said.
With what appears to be the use of black spray paint, the Black Lives Matter logo was altered. What remained was "Black Lies."
Moglia-Cannon assured 2 On Your Side, “We’ve got a new sign on order. Hopefully in a week or so, we’ll have that installed.”
But almost from the beginning, the banner in support of BLM has drawn attention and controversy. It was put up last summer, and about a month later, the church got a letter from village government, saying the banner needed to come down.
At issue was an apparent violation of a village ordinance over the size of the banner and how long it has been posted. There were also complaints about it.
“There was a complaint, or maybe more than one complaint,” said attorney Barry Covert, an attorney and East Aurora resident.
When Covert read in The Buffalo News about village government trying to force the church to remove the banner, he offered to help. Eventually, there was an agreement. The village issued a variance and the sign could stay in place.
But that wasn’t the end of the attention or controversy over the banner. In September, a large group of counter-demonstrators marched or drive by the church, many carrying American flags. There were chants of “U-S-A!” and at least one truck paced along the protestors. Occasionally, the truck horn would honk playing “Dixie.”
Moglia-Cannon says East Aurora is an attractive place to live, pointing out, “It’s got great schools. It’s got great ambiance.”
It is relatively small. Census data indicate the population is just 6,200, but it does offer a high quality of life. The median household income is nearly $74,000, but it is not diverse; 95.8% of East Aurora is white.
"And I do think, perhaps, people here would think that having more people of color in this community would be a negative thing,” said Moglia-Cannon, although he strongly disagrees.
“So I believe that this community of East Aurora, because it’s not integrated, it’s not inclusive, and we lose,” Moglia-Cannon said.
The police investigation of the vandalism has hit a snag. A security camera on a neighboring house did pick up a “dark figure in front of the sign,” but because the shot was from a distance and at night, police were not able to determine anything about the identify of that person.
The East Aurora Police are hoping others many know something about this case. They are interested in speaking with people who may have been near by the church on Buffalo Road at about 4:45 a.m. on Wednesday, April 14.
Similarly, police want to talk to anyone who might know who is responsible for defacing the sign. Tips can be phoned in at (716) 652-1111.