Webster University’s Black Lives Matter Banner Reported Stolen

Jun. 12, 2020

Webster University’s Black Lives Matter Banner Reported Stolen

This story was updated Friday evening with information about replacement banners installed earlier in the day.

ST. LOUIS - Webster University’s banner that declared “Black Lives Matter!” was reported stolen the evening of June 11. The banner, which was installed in front of the University’s Luhr Building on its Webster Groves campus on Sunday, was noticed missing by an employee of the University’s Department of Public Safety at 11 p.m. while on a routine campus patrol.

A police report has been filed with the Webster Groves Police Department. A replacement banner was installed before 1 p.m. Friday in the same spot as the original, and a second banner was installed at the intersection of Big Bend Blvd. and Edgar Rd. by 3 p.m. Friday.

“We are dismayed that someone felt it necessary to remove the sign, but this senseless act only underlines the need for us to work together to end systemic racism, inequity, and injustice and builds upon our shared commitments to statements and actions toward those goals. We still stand by the message on the sign - Black Lives Matter,” said Webster President Julian Z. Schuster. “We will certainly replace the sign as our fight to end racism and discrimination of any kind continues.”

The banner said, “Webster University stands for racial equality and justice – Black Lives Matter!” It was raised on Sunday, June 7, 2020, less than one day after University leadership issued a statement to all students, faculty and staff that condemned police violence against the African American community and stating it unequivocally declares Black Lives Matter.

The banner was last seen on campus at 10 p.m. Thursday, according to the report filed with the police department. One hour later, it was missing. The thieves cut all the ties that were securing the sign but left the support poles behind.

Anyone with information about who may have taken the banner is encouraged to call the Webster Groves Police Department.

Last week’s statement to the University Community is below:


Released June 6, 2020

To the Webster University Community,

We are writing again this weekend at a pivotal moment for our community and the nation, with a message of hope and change, along with a report of progress, as promised. As our letter to the community last week outlined, the killings of George Floyd and so many other Black Americans, such as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Manuel Ellis, along with those of the recent past, such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, are unacceptable and tragic losses. Such killings of unarmed members of the African American community, at the hands of police, must end. Webster University deplores violence of all types. The University condemned this racial violence in last week’s letter and those sentiments are reiterated today while unequivocally declaring, Black Lives Matter.

The Webster community believes in engagement to make progress for racial and social justice rather than a destructive path by using divisive rhetoric.  Our community believes in respectful and constructive dialogue rather than sensational statements meant to grab attention but little else. The University community must work together for the University to continue being a catalyst for positive change and the builder of a hopeful future during this defining moment of our era. Our community must work together to end systemic racism, inequity, and injustice.

This past week, we have taken these measures:

University Engagement  

  • Initiated a series of meetings with student leaders aimed at fighting racism, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, and this includes a careful review of the University’s Inclusion Pledge;
  • Affirmed support for the next cohort of the Witnessing Whiteness program;
  • Launched a North St. Louis County Scholarship program to begin in the fall. Details will become available in the coming week.

Parental & New Student Engagement

  • Held virtual meetings with parents, and incoming students to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with social justice issues;

Community Engagement

  • Supported the Webster-Rock Hill Ministry's Bell Park Summer Camp, a seven-week summer camp open to diverse children ages 5-12 in North Webster;
  • Supported the YWCA’s virtual student leadership program focused on the needs of diverse young girls to prepare them for leadership; and
  • Begun the planning for a special speaker series to launch this summer that will highlight important local and national leaders who will speak about racial equity issues and who will engage with leaders at Webster to provide insights about the need for further dialogue and progress. Members of the Webster community will be invited to participate in these virtual sessions and these sessions will be open across our global network to anyone who wishes to join the conversations.

In the coming weeks, the University will communicate about more ways that community groups and others beyond our students, staff, faculty, and alumni can brainstorm and partner with us on additional initiatives. 

Our University community is hopeful for the fall and the future. This is an example of how Webster moves conversations to action. The expectation is that there will be more initiatives as our community draws closer to a fall semester that presents more opportunities for embracing progress on social justice issues while also adjusting to a campus climate coping with the coronavirus pandemic. The University will invest wisely, initiate measures in intentional ways, and report progress. The University will provide tangible evidence of how our community is bettering the climate for social justice and racial equity.

Webster continues to stand with its Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The University will actively work to dismantle institutional racism at every level throughout society. There should be no doubt, our communities and our nation must do better.

We embrace these challenges with open minds, open hearts, and open arms. We embrace each other so we can build a better and more hopeful future together while strengthening our community.

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