SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Peace Alliance, planning to counter messages of hate during a vigil Wednesday in the Spa City, will also be raising money.
Alliance spokeswoman Linda LeTendre said the group will be raising money during the vigil for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, after the church's Black Lives Matter flag was stolen over the weekend.
LeTendre said any money raised will be donated to an organization supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Rev. Joseph Cleveland, minister of the congregation, said the flag was still flying in front of the church on Friday, but it was gone when he came in on Monday. He said the pole the flag was hanging from was bent, leaving him to believe someone jumped up and pulled the flag down.
Cleveland said the flag, one of two gifted to church by a congregant, had been on display since October.
“This was the first time we encountered any resistance from neighbors in our community,” Cleveland said.
The banner disappeared the same weekend members of the Ku Klux Klan placed fliers on cars promoting the hate group and asking others to join.
Police are still investigating that matter.
Cleveland said he was unsure if the same people were involved in stealing the church's flag.
“It’s certainly coincidental, but that’s all I can say about that,” Cleveland said.
Saratoga Springs police Lt. Robert Jillson said the department is investigating the incident but would not comment further.
While these acts are a reminder people still hold racist views, Cleveland said he still believes the majority of the Saratoga Springs community is kind-hearted.
“I think Saratoga is a community founded in the value of hospitality,” he said. “I’m constantly inviting people to explore our city.”
The vigil will take place in front of the post office on Broadway from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.