Paper hearts promote Black Lives Matter movement, positivity in Naperville

  • Brittany Bennefield and her son Maddox, 5, of Plainfield place a paper heart together on a downtown Naperville storefront as part of an effort that drew hundreds of people Wednesday, two days after instigators damaged roughly 30 stores after a protest.

      Brittany Bennefield and her son Maddox, 5, of Plainfield place a paper heart together on a downtown Naperville storefront as part of an effort that drew hundreds of people Wednesday, two days after instigators damaged roughly 30 stores after a protest. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • The Apple Store in downtown Naperville was among businesses decorated Wednesday with heart-shaped paper containing messages affirming the Black Lives Matter or promoting positivity.

      The Apple Store in downtown Naperville was among businesses decorated Wednesday with heart-shaped paper containing messages affirming the Black Lives Matter or promoting positivity. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Devaughan Welch of Bolingbrook holds a sign Wednesday during an effort to post paper hearts with positive messages on businesses in downtown Naperville. Thirty businesses were damaged Monday night when a protest turned destructive.

      Devaughan Welch of Bolingbrook holds a sign Wednesday during an effort to post paper hearts with positive messages on businesses in downtown Naperville. Thirty businesses were damaged Monday night when a protest turned destructive. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • June Sun of Naperville places a paper heart among many others Wednesday during an effort to decorate downtown Naperville two days after 30 businesses there were damaged when a protest turned destructive.

      June Sun of Naperville places a paper heart among many others Wednesday during an effort to decorate downtown Naperville two days after 30 businesses there were damaged when a protest turned destructive. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/3/2020 6:51 PM

Thousands of paper hearts with positive messages are covering the facades of businesses in downtown Naperville, two days after the area was hit by instigators who broke windows and stole from shops.

Naperville North High School graduate Rachel Hale and several of her friends organized the effort to tape up the colorful signs after some of them witnessed passersby tear down paper hearts reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Spread Love" on Tuesday as people descended on the area to clean up broken glass.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The episode was captured in a video that has circulated widely on social media. Hale, who saw the hearts being torn down from the boarded-up wall of the Apple Store on Jefferson Avenue, said the situation created some misunderstandings. But it gave her and her friends the idea to post more hearts, with business owners' permission, containing messages such as "Black Lives Matter," "Spread Love," "Be the Change you Wish to See," or "Spread Kindness."

"It was a negative that has turned into something so much bigger and so much more positive," Hale said.

The Apple Store, Lou Malnati's, Anderson's Bookshop and Sephora were among the shops participants decorated Wednesday.

Hale said spreading positivity and affirming the Black Lives Matter movement were important enough causes to organize Wednesday's event, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the public health recommendation not to gather in groups of more than 10.

"We had to take a stand," she said.

Mike Archer, CEO of Lou Malnati's, said the store provided a safe space for participants to gather and post messages, along with hundreds of free personal pan pizzas.

"We want to be part of the solution," Archer said. "I could not be more proud of these young women in terms of the stance they've taken and how they're spreading a positive message ... They told me that they're spreading love and kindness and the belief that Black Lives Matter."

The event came as protests across the region and the nation continue to rally against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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