Sheffield BLM sign

The Black Lives Matter sign on the town green in Sheffield was defaced in July with racist language. Police learned last week that the sign had been handled too much to register fingerprints.

SHEFFIELD — With no leads and the only evidence tainted, town police are closing their investigation of the defacement of a prominent Black Lives Matter sign on the town green last summer.

Police received word from the state crime lab last week that the sign itself had been handled too much after the crime to register fingerprints, said town Police Chief Eric Munson III.

"Their answer was that there were too many smudges and smears on it to pick up any viable prints because the people who found it had their hands all over it," Munson said. "It's unfortunate."

He said the case could be reopened anytime should witnesses come forward.

Early in the summer, Sheffield Berkshire Pride had placed the sign on the green along Route 7 in response to the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

In early July, the sign disappeared, but was later returned. Then, on July 13, a resident found it defaced with racist language and brought it to the police station. A photo circulated on social media, prompting outrage and a reward for information about culprit. 

After the incident, Black residents came forward with tales of racism in town and in the schools. A month earlier, the Mount Everett School community was roiled by a student's racist social media posts.

Munson said that numerous Black Lives Matter lawn signs have gone up in residents' yards, and so far, have stayed up — as far as he knows.

"None have been vandalized, smashed or taken down," he said. 

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or 413-329-6871. On Twitter @BE_hbellow.