A Black Lives Matter banner was stolen from the fence in front of South Whidbey High School where it had been hanging for the past year.
Its companion banner, a sign celebrating the class of 2021, was vandalized but left on the fence. Spray-painted over the congratulatory message were the letters ALM, which stand for “all lives matter,” a crossed-out hammer and sickle symbol and a vulgar anti-communist statement.
High school Principal John Patton reported the theft and vandalism at 7:14 a.m. Monday, June 14. The incident came on the heels of a Friday afternoon demonstration outside the school, during which some community members protested the presence of the Black Lives Matter banner.
Detective Ed Wallace of the Island County Sheriff’s Office said there is no indication that the theft is connected to the protest.
As of press time, Wallace said there were no leads or suspects.
The banners are estimated to cost around $300 each. Superintendent Josephine Moccia said the school plans to replace the banners, and some community members have donated toward the replacement costs.
“It is very disappointing that our graduates were disparaged in this way,” Moccia said in an email. “Our graduation ceremony on Saturday was wonderful and our students demonstrated that they are living the vision that our community (through a year-plus process) set for our district. They are multiculturally engaged, literate, active community members ready for a global society.”
“We are very proud of them,” she said.
Going forward, Moccia said the school will display a new banner each month to recognize marginalized members of the school community, including disability awareness, women’s history and LGBTQ+ pride, among others.