Vandals tore down a Black Lives Matter banner and sign from two historic Black churches in downtown Washington and set the banner ablaze as nighttime clashes Saturday between pro-Donald Trump supporters and counterdemonstrators erupted into violence and arrests.

Police on Sunday said they were investigating the incidents at the Asbury United Methodist Church and Metropolitan A.M.E. Church as potential hate crimes, which one religious leader likened to a cross burning.

“This weekend, we saw forces of hate seeking to use destruction and intimidation to tear us apart,” District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday. “We will not let that happen.’

A video posted on Twitter showed a group of men appearing to take down a BLM sign at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church as others in the crowd shout, “Whose streets? Our streets.” Another video showed people pouring an accelerant on a BLM banner and setting it ablaze in the as others cheered and cursed antifa. Someone walks up about a minute later uses a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

“For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings. Seeing this act on video made me both indignant and determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head.” the Rev. Dr. Lanther M. Mills, the senior pastor at Asbury church said in a statement Sunday Leaders of the Black Lives Matter organization decried the attacks on the churches, partly faulting police for allowing White supremacists to “run rampant.” ##

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