Students at a Catholic girls school in Rochester, New York, protested outside Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women last week, after graffiti including the N-word was found on a bathroom wall.
Days later, a student confessed to writing the message, “This school is filled with a bunch of [N-word]. Get out or else!” The student, whose anonymity is being protected because she’s a minor, is reportedly black.
“Four sources, including two in government, have confirmed that the n-word graffiti found in a Mercy High School bathroom wall, and which led to upset and a protest, was written by an African-American student,” local radio host and journalist Bob Lonsberry reported Thursday.
Four sources, including two in government, have confirmed that the n-word graffiti found in a Mercy High School bathroom wall, and which led to upset and a protest, was written by an African-American student.
— Bob Lonsberry (@BobLonsberry) March 11, 2022
“Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women has concluded our thorough investigation into the racist graffiti incident that was brought to our attention early Monday morning,” the school said in a statement last week, Rochester First reported. “The investigation was led by the Brighton Police Department with full cooperation of Mercy administration and faculty. During the investigative process, one of our students confessed to writing the graffiti in the girls bathroom.”
“For legal reasons, and in accordance with Mercy’s confidentiality practices, the student will not be identified,” the statement said. “Mercy has zero tolerance for this kind of behavior; appropriate and maximum disciplinary action has been taken.”
“Even though closure has come to this single incident, there is so much more work to do to understand what people are feeling and fearing,” the school said. “Our students and our community are distressed and hurt; Mercy will work to help heal the wounds caused by this incident, as well as help heal deep-rooted, related feelings this incident has brought to the surface.”
“Consistent with the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy, we are planning events and initiatives in the coming weeks to recognize and acknowledge the powerful emotions that are present within our community,” the statement added. “We are a compassionate institution, built on a foundation of faith, hope, and love and made strong by the resilience of our students, families, faculty, staff, and everyone within the Circle of Mercy. The road ahead will not be easy, but our love for each other and our school will light the way.”
Before the student confession, students protested the graffiti, some holding “Black Lives Matter” signs. “Happening this morning girls from our Lady of Mercy are outside supporting one another after the racist message was discovered yesterday,” WROC reporter Eric Schedlbauer captioned photos of the protest.
Happening this morning girls from our Lady of Mercy are outside supporting one another after the racist message was discovered yesterday @News_8 #roc https://t.co/C4dsRcS0lC pic.twitter.com/T8xdo5GIbH
— eric schedlbauer (@NG_NewGuy) March 8, 2022
Students were interrupted during school last week with an announcement about the graffiti.
“Please pardon this interruption for this important announcement. This morning, we found graffiti in a high school bathroom that wrote out the n-word and said, ‘Get out or else.’ We are investigating this and will hold those responsible, whether they are Mercy people or not,” the announcement said, according to a letter home to parents.
“Let us be clear, anyone who uses this language and is disparaging to our Mercy girls and Mercy community is not welcome at Mercy,” the letter continued. “We are unequivocally a school that embraces diversity and inclusion. We are a Catholic school, committed to gospel values of faith, hope, and love. The world is full of hate and violence. We want all of you to reflect on how Mercy can be a place of love and peace. What role do you play in creating such an environment?”
“Counselors, administrators, and Mrs. Dickey will be available in the Wellness and Counseling Center during Advisement and throughout the day to support anyone who feels unsafe,” the school added. “We will convene assemblies on this topic this week and will be notifying your parents of this. Thank you; that is all.”