Wakefield High School students in Raliegh, NC returned from Memorial Day Weekend to a disturbing scene: a Black teddy bear being hung by a noose. The teddy bear was found next to a sign, which read, “Make Wakefield TRIPP again #smartlunch.”
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Students on campus explained the signing, referencing its origins as a request to bring back their former White principal, who was replaced by their current principal, Malik Bazzell in 2015. It was also in protest to bring back an hour lunch that is no longer in practice.
The noose and bear were found on Tuesday morning, and quickly taken down, but not before it was seen by a bevy of students and staff, and made rounds on social media. To make matters worse, the high school’s stadium and baseball field were vandalized.
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Though the act was horrendous, Principal Bazzell and was quick to let students, staff, and parents know that this behavior will not be tolerated in his school. He released a statement, which included the following: “The imagery is deeply offensive and everyone in our school community should be appalled.”
The Wake County School district, standing in solidarity with Principal Bazzell, tweeted:
Police presence was high on campus and school officials are investigating the troubling vandalism.
Students are not holding back their thoughts, suspecting a hate crime. Wakefield High School Senior, Sami Walsh stated, “I don’t think it was a senior prank. It has nothing to do with seniors because we’re out of here, so why would we care about that? It was definitely a hate crime.”
The Black Student Union is calling for action and justice, with the school not only taking this crime seriously, but also having the offender(s) be held responsible for the vandalism. Wakefield High School Black Student Union President Lauren Howell, spoke out, stating, “The more things go unpunished, the more people think it’s okay, and I don’t think that’s right.”
The Black Student Union will be holding a town hall on Wednesday for students to gather in a safe space and discuss the events that occurred. Wakefield High School student India Card, “We just want to make sure that people of color in Wake County can feel safe and be able to come to school and not have to worry about seeing a noose hanging from the ceiling.”