From our news partner, News 3 Now:
Officials with the Madison Metropolitan School District say they are investigating after anti-Asian hate speech graffiti was found on hallways and stairwells at East High School on Tuesday, as students celebrated the Hmong New Year.
In a letter to East High families, interim principal Mikki Smith said multiple students and staff found the graffiti during lunch Tuesday. School custodians worked to clean it off as quickly as they could after taking photos to document it.
The messages were also relayed to MMSD’s Office of School Safety, Smith said.
The graffiti came as students in two Southeast Asian Language classes wore their traditional Hmong clothing throughout the day to celebrate the Hmong New Year.
“That a member of our community would do something so harmful, potentially in response to a cultural celebration, is very sad. It goes against everything we stand for at East,” Smith said in her letter to parents.
Smith says as of Tuesday night, they do not know who was responsible for the hateful messages, and asked anyone with information to come forward.
“I want all of our students and staff to know you are valued members of the East community,” Smith said. “You belong here, you are loved, and you have the full support of myself and the entire administration team. Please reach out if you are hurting, if you need to talk, or if you need anything. We are here to listen, protect, and support you.”
Wisconsin State Representative Francesca Hong of Madison also sent a message of support on Twitter Tuesday night.
A letter to Hmong Youth of East High:
As Hmong youth, you are tasked with representing your rich and beautiful culture while having to navigate the injustices of white supremacy culture. That journey is uniquely yours and deeply profound. I see you.
— Francesca Hong 홍윤정 (@FrancescaHongWI) November 24, 2021
“What happened today, the blatant show of anti Asian sentiment at East High School, is an absolute violation of trust. No individual should ever be subject to the harm of hateful words and racial violence,” Hong wrote.
“While being the first or only can be an honor, it is also at times deeply isolating and lonely. To have these feelings compounded with anti-Asian hate is despicable,” Hong continued. “We must be better in protecting, honoring and respecting one another.”
East High School will hold specific discussions about hate speech, bias and bigotry on Monday, according to school officials.