Maple Grove students fight racist graffiti with unity, love

- Under the blue sky of a mild November day, dozens of students from Maple Grove High School gathered at the city’s public bandshell to discuss the grey clouds of racism.  Expressing fears that the presidential election may have stirred up racial divide.

“It’s hard to talk about,” said Maple Grove senior Jarmare Spencer.  “You’d think 2016 we’d be done with all these racial slurs and stuff.”

What was found in a bathroom at the high school Wednesday morning, just hours after the election, was shocking. The scrawled words referenced Donald Trump and his campaign slogan, leading to fears that the divisiveness of this election has emboldened racist behavior.

Students responded by papering the school’s entrance with signs of support for minority students.  But some didn’t see them, choosing to stay home instead.

“Today I felt unsafe to go to school,” said fellow senior Morgan Eames. “So I did not attend school, but I’ve had conversations with the principal and he’s in complete support of me and what I’m standing for.”

What Eames did was organize this meeting at the bandshell, where students of all races could talk about the need to stand up to racism. 

Among the students, some of their parents, whose permission was needed for the kids to leave school.   Michael Hrupek gladly allowed his kids to leave, picking them up and giving a ride to two others. 

“When those pictures started coming in and the kids were showing me, I was in disbelief,” he told us.  Hrupek, who is white, believes also that this kind of gathering is an important lesson for teens on the rights of free speech and assembly.  Also important, he believes, to show that protest can be done respectfully, without violence or disruption.

“I wanted them to understand that it’s our right to do this and we won’t be persecuted for this or thrown into jail like in some other countries where this would not be allowed.”

One of the first students to see the graffiti was Moses Karngbaye, also a senior, who was also among the first to post the picture of it on social media.  He says the immigration rhetoric of this presidential election is adding other stresses on kids too, as his younger brother’s come home in tears, worried that friends might be deported.

“It’s heartbreaking that things like this are happening.”

A walk-out at the high school is planned for noon on Friday to continue to protest.

Maple Grove Police is investigating.

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