Grand Marais resort owner's Black Lives Matter sign vandalized at least three times

“This fortifies our position even more so."

Sloane Martin
August 07, 2020 - 8:43 pm
Black Lives Matter Sign

Andy DeLisi Facebook

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The owner of a remote northern Minnesota resort says his Black Lives Matter sign continues to be vandalized.

The plywood sign sits on rural Gunflint Trail in northern Cook County about 30 miles north of Grand Marais, painted black with white lettering.

It first drew attention about three weeks ago when Big Bear Lodge owner Andy DeLisi posted stills from video security footage of an older couple messing with it on his Facebook page. He later found the sign in a ditch. After the post went viral, the cosmetics company Mary Kay said in a statement it had “severed ties” with Linda Bergerson of Cedar Rapids.

DeLisi has reported two more incidents to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office since. 

The first July 31 showed a man heaving the sign away from the road. The latest Wednesday featured a man in a truck with a camper attached running into it, which DeLisi believes was intentional.

The Army veteran said since he’s not able to take part in protests in person in the area so rural cell phones don’t function, he’s not taking it down.

“I just feel this racial injustice thing has gone on far too long,” he told WCCO Radio. “And frankly, I’m late to the dance. We should have been more vocal about this years and years and years ago.”

The lawn signs he originally got from a friend in Grand Marais disappeared (“I do think they were intentionally removed,” DeLisi said. “The wind didn’t just come along, pick them up, and blow them away.”) and the plywood was intended to make the sign sturdier. 

DeLisi said it’s his First Amendment right to post the sign and he’s not concerned about it affecting business.

“This fortifies our position even more so,” he said. “...there’s enough people that don’t agree with the sentiment, whatever their reasons are, I don’t know.  We’re not obviously going to change their minds because this is who they are. But I have every right to be supportive of a cause and this is the cause I choose to support on my property, and I am going to maintain that stance, period. You can keep taking them down. We’ll keep putting them up.”

For DeLisi it’s about being “on the right side of things,” and making a statement.

“I just felt being in an area where it’s predominantly white, we need to show our support and get behind our Black brothers and sisters, Native Americans, anyone who’s dealing with that kind of racial injustice right now,” he said.

It's also personal. When he joined the army as a young private, he met Sgt. First Class Robert Watson, a Black man who became his mentor and “like a second father.”

“He shaped me into an excellent enlisted soldier and because of him I had a really good 14-year career,” DeLisi said. “I got out as a Master Sergeant EA and I don’t think I would have retained that rank had I not been mentored from that individual, so I owe a lot of that to him.”

DeLisi said it’s disappointing that the three-word sign is controversial.

“You know, it’s sad that we can’t just embrace this idea that there is something wrong with the system and the way people of color are being treated to this day,” he said. “I think it’s important that we the people who feel this way voice our voices and voice them loud because those in power need to hear this. They need to hear it loud, they need to hear it often, and there needs to be change.”

A representative from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office tells WCCO Radio the third and latest incident remains under investigation

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