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Proud Boys members march in support of President Trump in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Police are investigating as possible hate crimes the tearing down and burning of a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historic Black churches during unrest at pro-Trump protests in Washington, D.C., over the weekend.

Why it matters: Saturday's vandalism at the Asbury United Methodist Church and the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church are "acts of both racial terror and religious violence," per a statement from Yolanda Pierce, dean of D.C.'s Howard University School of Divinity.

  • Ianther Mills, a senior pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church, founded in 1836, said in a statement acts were "reminiscent of cross burnings," noting "we face an apparent rise in white supremacy."

Context: Historically, Black churches have been targeted by white supremacists in acts of violence in the U.S.

Driving the news: Violent clashes erupted in D.C. Saturday between supporters of President Trump who refuse to accept his election loss to President-elect Biden and counter-protesters.

  • The men, some dressed in "MAGA" hats, who were captured on video burning the banner at the Asbury United Methodist Church, were later identified as members of the far-right group the Proud Boys, according to the Washington Post.
  • Another video shows protesters tearing down the sign at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and stomping on it while shouting: "Whose streets? Our streets."

What they're saying: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said in a statement Sunday that the Office of Religious Affairs and the Metropolitan Police Department are "engaging the impacted houses of worship."

"DC's faith-based organizations are at the very heart of our community, giving us hope in the face of darkness. They embody our DC values of love and inclusivity. An attack on them is an attack on all of us. This weekend, we saw forces of hate seeking to use destruction and intimidation to tear us apart. We will not let that happen."
— Bowser

Go deeper

Updated Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Capitol secured hours after mob breach

A protester sits in the Senate chamber on Jan. 6. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The U.S. Capitol was secured hours after a mob supporting President Trump violently breached the building, causing a lockdown and evacuation of lawmakers, staff and reporters.

Where it stands: The Senate and House have reconvened to finish certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker

Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19

Photo: Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

State of play: Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement that Milley — who is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot — is experiencing "very minor symptoms" and is "working remotely and isolating himself."