A Massachusetts man and his stepfather repeatedly vandalized a home displaying Black Lives Matter signs — spray-painting an obscenity on a tree and pelting eggs and tomatoes at the residence, authorities allege.
Joshua Simpson, 21, and Stephen Smith, 55, were arraigned Tuesday after a month-long investigation into vandalism, property damage and civil rights violations at the home in Lynnfield, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett announced.
The pair, who also live in Lynnfield, were charged after a resident first reported the vandalism on Aug. 17, saying an obscenity directed toward Black Lives Matter was spray-painted on a driveway, Blodgett said.
The homeowner said a BLM sign at the residence was stolen the night before, but the alleged theft was not reported, authorities said.
Police responded to the Summer Street home over the course of the next month to look into several acts of vandalism and property damage, including several stolen BLM signs, an obscenity spray-painted on a tree and eggs and tomatoes tossed at the residence, Blodgett said.
Officers conducting surveillance on the home early Tuesday then spotted Simpson approaching the residence with a carton of eggs, Blodgett said.
“A short time later, Smith drove by the scene and attempted to run the officers over with his vehicle,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Simpson pleaded not guilty to charges of malicious destruction of property, larceny under $1,200, vandalizing property, resisting arrest, property damage to intimidate and criminal harassment. A judge set his bail at $750 and ordered him to stay away from the victim’s home, as well as to abstain from drinking alcohol, Blodgett said.
Smith pleaded not guilty to operating under the influence, 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 ahead of a dangerousness hearing set for Sept. 21, prosecutors said.
Detectives spent “countless hours” responding to the vandalism reports and working with the homeowners to identify Smith and Simpson, Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen said.
“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,” Breen said in a statement.
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