Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Olympia High School Property Vandalized with Racially Biased Graffiti

Above: Colorful rocks at Olympia High School are usually spray painted with positive messages, like above, but on Saturday night, were defaced with racially biased messages. 

By Janine Gates

The frequently spray painted, brightly colored rocks by the bus loading zone off Carlyon Street at Olympia High School is a place for positive messages, but on Saturday night, someone defaced one of the rocks with profanity and racially biased messages of hate.

Little Hollywood is choosing not to publish pictures of those words.

Olympia High School principal Matt Grant said that when he heard about the situation on Saturday night, he made sure the graffiti was removed and replaced with supportive messages for students of color. Mr. Grant called the police and asked them to keep an eye on the rocks. 

“Olympia High School does not tolerate hate. The words that defaced the rock are not, and will never be, reflective of our ideals as a community,” said Grant on Monday.

“The fact that people in this community felt that this language was acceptable tells us that we at Olympia High School have work to do in helping every single one of us understand why statements like those made last weekend are not tolerable in our community.

“But our words today are not enough. We will have to show...that we mean what we say through our actions, through more learning opportunities, and through the conversations we will have over the next few weeks, months, and even years to come,” Grant said in his message to the school community.

The school will share information with staff and students about a community forum on March 2 at Capital High School from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Commons at Capital High School. The event is open to the public and sponsored by the Black Alliance of Thurston County, in cooperation with the Olympia Police Department.

Grant also said that the school will have a student-led forum about race on March 4, develop a committee to make sure school curriculum represents people and ideas from all cultures, and plan for additional professional development opportunities and diversity training so faculty are better equipped to address concerns and issues that emerge about race.

“Every one of us in this community is going to have to dig as deeply as we can to commit to the difficult work ahead of repairing the pain and hurt that racism has caused in this community,” said Grant.