Arrests made in BLM vandalism incidents

Sep 16, 2020 by

Posted on: Wednesday, September 16, 2020

LYNNFIELD — A Summer Street man and his stepfather pleaded not guilty in Peabody District Court on Tuesday, Sept. 15, on charges related to recent acts of racially-motivated vandalism at one of their neighbor’s homes.

According to a release, a month-long police investigation led to the arrests early Tuesday morning of 21-year-old Joshua Simpson and Stephen Smith, 55, of 393 Summer St. Police had been watching another Summer Street home that had been a frequent target of vandalism, including to a Black Lives Matter sign on the property. Simpson is believed to have attempted to throw eggs at the victims’ home early Tuesday morning. 

During the arraignment later that day, Simpson pleaded not guilty to malicious destruction of property, two counts of larceny under $1,200, vandalizing property, resisting arrest, property damage to intimidate and criminal harassment. District Court Judge Randy Chapman set bail at $750 and ordered him to have no contact with and stay away from all victims and witnesses, stay 1000 feet away from victim’s home and remain alcohol free. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Smith, 55, pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, property damage to intimidate and assault to murder. Judge Chapman ordered him held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Monday, Sept. 21.

On Aug. 17, Lynnfield Police responded to a report of vandalism at a home on Summer Street. Police found an obscenity directed at Black Lives Matter spray-painted on the driveway. The homeowner reported that their Black Lives Matter sign had been stolen the night before but they had not reported it. Since then, police have responded to and investigated a series of acts of vandalism and property destruction at the same home including an obscenity spray painted on a tree, several stolen Black Lives Matter signs, and eggs and tomatoes thrown at the residence.

Early Tuesday morning while conducting surveillance of the residence, Lynnfield Police officers observed an individual, later identified as Simpson, approaching the residence with a carton of eggs. When officers approached the individual, a struggle ensued. A short time later, Smith drove by the scene and attempted to run the officers over with his vehicle.

“This department spent countless hours responding to these reports and working with the homeowners to identify the perpetrators,” said Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen. “I am hopeful that these arrests and eventual prosecution of these individuals will help provide some peace of mind to the victims and send a message to others that this type of conduct will not be tolerated in this community.”

Acts of vandalism based in racial hatred have had many in Lynnfield deeply concerned. 

The following is a statement from Selectmen Chairman Christopher Barrett and his colleagues on the board, Dick Dalton and Phil Crawford.

“As members of the Board of Selectmen and citizens of our great community we are so pleased and thankful that arrests were made (early Tuesday morning) by the Lynnfield Police Department in connection with several criminal racist acts and vandalism targeting Lynnfield families and property. The charges against these suspects could not be more serious and it is our most sincere hope that justice is served and these suspects are held fully accountable. We continue to stand, hand-in-hand, with our neighbors that have been victims of hate and discrimination and it is our hope that these arrests bring some comfort.

“We wish to publicly congratulate and thank Chief Breen and the members of the Lynnfield Police department. We have been in constant communication with our public safety leadership throughout this dark time and can personally attest to the level of professional, determined, patient and focused police work that took place over the past several months to make these arrests. The bravery of Captain (Nick) Secatore and Officer (Jon) Duzz in making these difficult arrests, in the middle of the night, was incredible and speaks to the steadfast dedication that every officer in Lynnfield possesses to keep our community safe. Although last week was Public Safety Appreciation week in Lynnfield, we thank them every day.

“We are thankful that these individuals are off our streets but this is not the end…now is a time for all to reaffirm publicly that racism and hate have no place in our community and an incident targeting one neighbor is an attack on all of us and the Lynnfield community values we hold dear.

“We state that publicly, once again, here today.”

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