A man and his stepfather were arrested Tuesday in connection to the theft and vandalism of Black Lives Matter signs in Lynnfield, Massachusetts.
Joshua Simpson, 21, and Stephen Smith, 55, both of Lynnfield, face numerous charges following a month-long investigation into vandalism, property damage and civil rights violations at a home on Summer Street, according to the Essex District Attorney's Office.
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Simpson pleaded not guilty to malicious destruction of property, two counts of larceny, vandalizing property, resisting arrest, property damage to intimidate and criminal harassment. His bail was set at $750 and he is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 30.
Smith pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence of alcohol, three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, property damage to intimidate and assault to murder. He was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on Sept. 21.
The charges stem from a series of incidents dating back to Aug. 17. On that day, police responding to a report of vandalism at a home on Summer Street found an obscenity directed at Black Lives Matter spray painted on the driveway. The homeowner also told police that their Black Lives Matter sign had been stolen the night before, but they had not reported it. Since then, police said they have responded to and investigated a series of acts of vandalism and property destruction at the same home, including an obscenity spray painted on a tree, several other stolen Black Lives Matter signs, and eggs and tomatoes thrown at the home.
Prosecutors said that early Tuesday morning, while conducting surveillance of the residence, police observed an individual, later identified as Simpson, approaching the home with a carton of eggs. When officers confronted him, a struggle ensued. A short time later, they said Smith drove by the scene and attempted to run the officers over with his vehicle.
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"This department spent countless hours responding to these reports and working with the homeowners to identify the perpetrators," Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen said in a statement. "I am hopeful that these arrests and eventual prosecution of these individuals will help provide some peace of mind to the victims and send a message to others that this type of conduct will not be tolerated in this community."