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Authorities: Man accused of damaging Morristown church sign turns himself in

The man’s identity has not been released, but authorities say that he turned himself in after seeing surveillance pictures of himself allegedly connecting him to the crime.

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

Jun 1, 2023, 5:14 PM

Updated 382 days ago

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A 22-year-old man is facing criminal mischief charges for allegedly vandalizing a church sign in Morristown.
The man’s identity has not been released, but authorities say that he turned himself in after seeing surveillance pictures of himself allegedly connecting him to the destroyed sign at the Church of the Redeemer.
Church staff found the damaged lawn sign on May 20. Police released surveillance images saying they were looking for a rowdy and destructive group of seven men and three walking on South Street around 1:30 a.m. According to police, several surveillance images showed the group hitting and damaging multiple signs as they made their way along South Street before getting into cars parked on Dumont Place.
The crime was investigated by Morris County law enforcement officers as a possible biased crime because the sign was destroyed just a day after Pride flags went up on the church lawn for a memorial honoring a beloved member of the congregation.
“We won’t know what their motivation was but what we do know is that in this world today. There’s an extraordinary amount of violence, and sadly a lot of violence directed at the [LGBTQ] community,” says Rev. Cynthia Black. “Our sign very clearly says, ‘All are welcomed,’ so if they weren’t trying to take that out, I don’t know what they were trying to take out.”
A similar incident happened at nearby Morristown United Methodist.
“We had a banner also that was brightly decorated with rainbow colors. That banner was vandalized. It was found to be a crime directed specifically because of our support of the LGBT community,” says Senior Pastor Luana Cook Scott.
The man charged with damaging the sign was released with a summons. The investigation determined that it wasn’t a hate-based crime, just an intent to damage property.
Church leaders say they’ve reached their financial goal to get the sign fixed but until then, residents can expect to see a rainbow Band-Aid put on by local girl scouts.


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