NewsRegionBaltimore County

Actions

Someone is washing away Hillcrest Elementary students' BLM chalk art

Posted at 2:29 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 18:03:39-04

CATONSVILLE, Md. — Someone keeps washing away Hillcrest Elementary School students 'Black Lives Matters' chalk art that they are putting on the side of the school.

A parent told WMAR-2 News that once the BLM messages went up, someone called to complain.

Baltimore County Public Schools said they support the students and the peaceful chalk art posted.

School officials also released the following statement about the incident:

"A complaint of graffiti initiated a facilities response to wash it. Facilities was not aware of the art. A police office- not BC-was assertive in his request to take it down. We declined. BC Police have been fantastic in protecting the mural and our families as they create."

In a letter, Hillcrest Elementary Principal, Dr. Jennifer Lynch said:

"Dear Hillcrest Families,

As we close out another school year, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the incredible strength and support of the Hillcrest community. On March 13, 2020 we closed our school doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our teachers immediately jumped into action by finding new ways to engage students, communicate with families, and create supportive and loving learning communities in a virtual setting. Our families reciprocated that love and support by creating viral chalk art displays on our building. These art displays not only provided messages of support and encouragement during very unsettling times, but they also created a visual representation of our strength as a community.

During these difficult times, our communities of color have not only been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, but they have also been disproportionately impacted by unjust police practices. These are not easy times in our nation, and yet our Hillcrest family once again demonstrated that love is the way forward. Recently students and families created new viral art messages of love, peace, hope, and acknowledgment of the current struggles to our communities of color as well as messages and love and support to our men and women in blue. From all of us at Baltimore County Public Schools and Hillcrest Elementary School, we would like to thank you for your unyielding support.

Our viral art, while beautiful, is just a temporary demonstration of our commitment to equity. We will continue to work with our PTA, community leaders, elected officials, and local business owners to ensure that all voices are heard and respected and to continue our commitment to permanent change. As we move forward with summer cleaning of the building in preparation for the upcoming school year, we will continue to provide other avenues for safe expressions of support and activism. We recognize that at this difficult time in our nation’s history, not only are many of our communities in pain, but also that many of those who protect us each and every day are also under unprecedented stress as well. The Hillcrest community will continue to work to build the trust that is critical in keeping our communities and the men and women of our police department safe and secure. At Hillcrest, we will do this by working together and engaging in respectful dialogue. I could not be more proud of our Hillcrest community. We remain committed to ensuring that we are protecting and empowering every student, every day. From our Hillcrest family to yours, we wish you a peaceful and restful summer vacation."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the off-duty police officer responsible for singling out and scrubbing off the chalk art from other messages authorized to be posted on the exterior wall of Hillcrest Elementary School to apologize for his actions.

The civil rights organization also condemned racist graffiti, including an offensive slur and an image of a noose discovered on the property of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda.

Baltimore County Public Schools has issued a statement on the messages, Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams stating in part that the actions of elementary students were a desire to show unity, love, and peace and were supported by one of their principals, staff and many community members. They said however that they do have policies against graffiti, defacing property, or vandalism, and will continue to abide by them.

The full statement can be read below:

“First and foremost, we could not be prouder of our youngest students who, from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, looked for ways to stay connected and to share expressions of love for their school. Secondly, we are equally proud of our staff and families who adjusted to a new way of learning during these challenging times. Yes, we have policies against graffiti, defacing property, or vandalism, and will continue to abide by them. This week’s actions of elementary students were a desire to show unity, love, and peace and were supported by one of our principals, staff and many community members; we teach empathy and compassion in addition to rigorous instruction. We will continue to provide our students ways to express their views that do not include writing on our buildings, but to be clear, we believe in teachable moments and treat our students as young people who have a desire to learn, inquire, challenge, and grow.”