MUSKEGON, MICH. - Hate speech graffiti was found on a monument at Muskegon High, on August 15, 2017. A Muskegon Schools administrator was one of the first people to notice the racist language and images on the statue Tuesday morning.
The statue is of Charles Hackley, one of the leading businessmen of early Muskegon, who also supported public education. It is on the property of Muskegon High School. Tuesday morning, band students were rehearsing in an open space near the statue.
Muskegon Superintendent Justin Jennings says once school district officials learned of the graffiti, they made sure police got a picture of the damage and the language. District employees spent hours working to remove the graffiti with a variety of cleaning products; however, the words were still noticeable.
Workers will have to use a sandblaster to fully erase the message -- but, that will damage the monument.
"We are going to stay the course," says Superintendent Jennings. "This is something that is not acceptable in our community, and I know this just isolated individuals and we want that to be our focus, used as a talking point to move forward and start healing."
Jennings hopes school leaders can have meaningful discussions with students about the graffiti and about a noose discovered at a different district school on Sunday.
Muskegon Police are investigating the racist messages. Officers could be seen patrolling the area, knocking on doors in an effort to find the person or people responsible for the damage. Security cameras in the area will also be reviewed.
While the police investigation is going on, Superintendent Jennings says administrators and teachers are focused on preparing for the return of students after summer break.
"Our school is still safe and we are here for the business of teaching and learning and that is what our focus is going to be," Jennings said. "It is not part of the fabric of Muskegon Public Schools or the community at large."
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