‘I’m actually heartbroken’: Mercy community on graffiti with racial slur
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BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — School leaders and the Brighton Police Department are looking for the person or people responsible for graffiti containing a racial slur found in a bathroom stall at Our Lady of Mercy School For Young Women Monday morning.
The message has left the campus of the all-girl school deeply upset. Schools leaders say this does not reflect their school community in any way.
"I’m actually heartbroken," said senior Molly Kantz. "I know all of us are shocked that this happened, and it’s not something that we expected. As a student body, we really need to speak up, and stand up against this."
The message can only be described by Mercy as deeply disturbing. It reads, "This school is filled with a bunch of n*****s Get out or else!!"
School Principal Marty Killbridge said students and parents were quickly made aware of the situation.
"Because of how severe this was, and how serious we take this denouncing it, offering support for our students. So that was our first step. We have engaged the Brighton Police that are investigating this as a hate crime," Killbridge said.
The graffiti was found by a student around 7:45 a.m. on Monday and may have been written in the bathroom stall either Friday after school or on Saturday. School Diversity Officer Linda Dickey said students were left with a lot of mixed feelings. Our Lady of Mercy does have a student population that’s 18% Black, Asian, Hispanic or Native American.
"This is a hurtful message," Dickey said. "It’s a very hurtful message. The students of color and their parents of course have concerns, but they are working on this."
The community as a whole is hurting as well.
"We’ve got administrators, faculty, and staff who are deeply disturbed by this as we need to come together," Killbridge said. "We are as I said a loving community. We would rather lift people up than tear them down. So we want to make sure that in this process we’re supporting everyone."
Killbridge told us if a student is found responsible for the hate message, that student faces everything from detention to expulsion. Right now it’s all about moving through the healing process.
"We’re meeting with students this week. We’re going to be having several school-wide assemblies, and we’re also going to be having a Town Hall meeting with parents. We’re working on what that will look like because parents need to know that this is a safe place," Dickey said.
Jacqueline Napier graduated in 2017. She emailed us saying, "I am appalled and deeply saddened by this horrible hate crime. My parents were proud to send me to Our Lady of Mercy because the students are taught to unequivocally embrace diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. These inhumane actions do not represent the values of Our Lady of Mercy."
Police and school leaders would like to hear from you if you have any information that could help in the arrest of the person responsible for the racist graffiti.