Man, stepfather arrested for allegedly stealing Black Lives Matter signs

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Two Lynnfield men are facing various charges after one allegedly stole a resident’s Black Lives Matter signs and vandalized their home, and while authorities attempted to arrest him, his stepfather allegedly attempted to run police over with a car.

Joshua Simpson, 21, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in Peabody District Court Tuesday on charges of two counts of larceny under $1,200, and one count each of malicious destruction of property, vandalizing property, resisting arrest, property damage to intimidate, and criminal harassment. Bail was set at $750 and he was ordered to stay away from the victims and their home, among other conditions. A pretrial conference was set for Sept. 30, according to a news release from Lynnfield Police Chief David Breen and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

His stepfather, 55-year-old Stephen Smith, pleaded not guilty to three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, operating under the influence of alcohol, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, property damage to intimidate, and assault to murder. He was ordered held without bail with a dangerousness hearing set for Sept. 21, the release said.

Initially, police went to a home on Summer Street on Aug. 17 and found “an obscenity directed at Black Lives Matter spray painted on the driveway,” according to the release. The resident also said their Black Lives Matter sign was stolen the night prior, though they hadn’t reported it.

“Since then, police 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 stolen Black Lives Matter signs, and eggs and tomatoes thrown at the residence,” the release said.

Early Tuesday morning, officers found Simpson allegedly holding eggs and headed toward the home. Officers went up to him, and a struggle began. Then, Smith allegedly tried to run the police over with a vehicle, the release said.

“This department spent countless hours responding to these reports and working with the homeowners to identify the perpetrators,” Breen said in the release. “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.”

The town’s Board of Selectmen issued a statement following the arrests.

“The charges against these suspects could not be more serious and it is our most sincere hope that justice is served and these suspects are held fully accountable,” the statement said. “We continue to stand, hand in hand, with our neighbors that have been victims of hate and discrimination and it is our hope that these arrests bring some comfort.”

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