Protesters urge end to racially motivated attacks

Sep 16, 2020 by

Published September 16, 2020


YORKSHIRE DRIVE residents Jason and Carly Caggiano proudly reiterated their support for Black Lives Matter during a Lynnfield for Love protest on the Town Common on Sept. 12. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

LYNNFIELD — One-hundred-and-twenty-five residents gathered on the Town Common on Saturday morning, Sept. 12, in support of townspeople who have been targeted for having Black Lives Matter signs on their property.

Lynnfield for Love decided to host the peaceful protest after three juveniles set off fireworks at Jason and Carly Caggiano’s 5 Yorkshire Dr. property on Labor Day, Sept. 7.

“An explosion went off in my front yard,” said Jason in an interview with the Villager at the protest. “My daughter yelled my name and I went outside and asked her what happened. I walked outside after it happened, so I rewinded the video for my surveillance camera. I saw three males jump out of a car, run over and blow up a large illegal firework on my property right next to a ‘Love Thy Neighbor Black Lives Matter’ sign that is next to another ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign. We have the only house in the neighborhood with these signs.”

The Caggiano family reported the incident to Lynnfield Police. The three juveniles and their parents contacted Lynnfield Police on Tuesday, Sept. 8 to take responsibility for the incident.

“They said they had been using fireworks at a nearby parking lot and stopped to shoot off a final round of fireworks before returning home for the night,” the town wrote on its Facebook page. “They were interviewed by police and asked to speak with the affected parties. Two members of the family generously agreed to meet with them. The juveniles were very apologetic and took responsibility for their actions. They said the signage at the home was not the motivation for the decision to launch the fireworks at that location.”

While Jason said local officials believed the three juveniles, he and his family do not.

“The kids came forward with an attorney, and went to the police and the town once my video hit social media,” said Jason. “They were very apologetic and said it had nothing to do with the signs, but they had one left over firework after lighting them off and just did it. We had a hard time believing them, but the town did believe them and said it was unrelated. I believe it is completely related, but the town is saying that it is not related and the case is closed. That is not the case.”

Carly said the fireworks incident really upset her two young children.

“My daughter has spoken with a school psychologist because it really affected her,” said Carly.

Town Administrator Rob Dolan and Board of Selectmen Chairman Chris Barrett announced in a Letter to the Editor that the case has been forwarded to the Essex County District Attorney’s Juvenile Division.

There have been other residents who have had their Black Lives Matter signs stolen and property vandalized over the last couple of months. Summer Street resident Andrea Markarian has had signs stolen and vandalized, and an individual spray-painted “(expletive) you BLM” on her family’s driveway and on a tree. Town property has been vandalized with anti Black Lives Matter messages as well.

Lynnfield for Love President Wendy Dixon said last Saturday’s rally, which is the third one to occur in town since June, was held in response to what happened to the Caggiano family and other residents.

“It has been going on for a long time and we are tired of it,” said Dixon. “We want to make our voices heard peacefully without violence. We just want it to stop.”

Jason said he and his family have been “amazed by the community’s response.”

“Just look around and see all of these great people,” said Jason. “It does show that while there are a few bad actors, this town as a whole comes together and does not have hateful feelings and believes in the U.S. Constitution. This goes beyond Black Lives Matter. This is trying to silence someone’s political views using explosives. That is a clear violation of our First Amendment rights.”

Carly agreed.

“I have been very impressed with the community,” said Carly. “This is a position we never thought we would be in by peacefully putting these signs out.”

During the rally, Dixon said Lynnfield for Love worked to ensure residents were practicing social distancing and wearing masks in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 virus pandemic.

“We are definitely following the guidelines,” said Dixon. “I am a public health nurse and we don’t want anyone to get sick.”

Over the course of the two-hour rally, a number of motorists honked their car’s horns and cheered in support of the peaceful protest.

While the majority of townspeople who attended the rally came in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the residents who have been targeted, a woman who refused to give her name to the Villager kept marching up and down the sidewalk near the War Memorial while carrying a Thin Blue Line American flag.

“I back blue lives because I don’t believe defunding the police is the answer,” the woman said.

A man jogging near Centre Congregational Church and the library also yelled “all lives matter” at the protesters.

Dixon said Lynnfield for Love is “not anti-police.”

“Every single person here is not anti-police,” said Dixon. “That is not the message we are sending. We want to partner with the police to find out who is doing this. Lynnfield for Love’s main objective right now is to just change the minds of people who don’t have a goal to be anti-racist to move them in that direction.”

Lynnfield for Love member Darlene Kumar said she and her children have a great deal of respect for the Lynnfield Police Department.

“We are just looking for equality and fairness for all,” said Kumar.

Lynnfield for Love and the town have also launched an initiative in support of people of color. Dixon wrote on the nonprofit’s Facebook page that residents can write supportive messages on their driveways or walkways with sidewalk chalk or can put a sign in their window.

“In response to the targeted racist attacks on our neighbors, we stand up in solidarity as a town to say that hate has no place here,” Dixon wrote on Lynnfield for Love’s Facebook page. “Lynnfield, we are so much more than hate. Let’s show up for our community.”

For more information about the new initiative, visit Lynnfield for Love’s Facebook page.

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