Racist and homophobic graffiti was quickly painted over Monday morning at Gladstone secondary, where violent threats and hate-filled language were sprayed on exterior walls and a door of the school.
Located in the Joyce-Collingwood neighbourhood, which is home to many immigrants and residents from diverse backgrounds, the graffiti appeared Feb. 20 and was covered the next morning, said the school’s principal Chris Parker.
He described the crude work as “words and symbols that were offensive and disgusting.”
Reaction against the threatening graffiti came from politicians, student groups as well as the school.
“It is important to me and to us that those words and images were quickly painted over as they have no place at this school, in this community, or in this country. The words that are important to us are on a banner that sits outside the front door of this school every day in broad daylight,” wrote Parker in a message printed on Gladstone letterhead.
The language he referred to is: “You are leaders, you are friends, you are loved.”
The principal continued: “The words that are important to us at Gladstone are words like respect, understanding, tolerance, and empathy, words and actions that demonstrate an inclusive and diverse culture. Gladstone, to me, is not the words that appeared on the wall yesterday morning, though the media might treat it that way for a short time, nor do we know whether it was anyone from Gladstone who put those words there.”
The secondary school, he wrote, “is a thousand positive events that occur here all of the time.”
Graffiti read, “Roblox club declares war on Gladstone,” followed by a face with what appears to be a narrow mustache and the phrase, “Prepare to be gassed.”
Roblox is a massive multi-user gaming site that includes forum discussions, some dedicated to white nationalism and the alt-right, as well as thousands of gaming worlds created by children and adults from users’ imagination as well as political views.
Other graffiti included a swastika.
A former student wrote on a Facebook group that the Gladstone community is “disgusted” with the vandalism and said there are plans for an anti-discrimination rally, though no day has been confirmed.
“The admins of this page are firm believers that schools should be safe, inclusive places for all students no matter their race, sexuality, or religion. We, as a community, need to come together and take a stand against prejudice and those who make an effort to destroy our diverse community,” read a post on Feb. 20.
NDP MP Don Davies also expressed disgust, calling the vandalism “nothing short of cowardly and reprehensible.”
The three-term representative for Vancouver-Kingsway said in a Feb. 21 statement, “I condemn this act on behalf of our entire community, and we will re-double our commitment to building a multi-cultural, accepting and welcoming place for all.”