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Black Lives Matter Messages Defaced On Ardrey Kell, Community House Rocks

Shot from video of Ardrey Kell High rock.

A video circulating on social media Sunday shows messages on the rock at Charlotte's Ardrey Kell High supporting Black Lives Matter protests defaced and crossed out.

Taylor Rose, a senior at Ardrey Kell, says the student body president and a few friends painted the rock recently and it was vandalized Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

The video shows messages such as "End Police Brutality" and "I Can't Breathe" crossed out in red, and "Say Their Names" painted over with the message "Blue Lives Matter."

"We're all really upset about that," Rose said Sunday.

She said school administrators covered the rock in neutral paint Sunday, and students from Ardrey Kell, a majority white school, and West Charlotte, a mostly black one, plan to meet Monday afternoon to paint new messages supporting racial justice.

Principal David Switzer said Monday that similar vandalism happened at Community House Middle School nearby, which had also painted its rock with messages supporting the protests. 

Ardrey Kell, located in the Ballantyne area of south Charlotte, is 57% white and 12% black. It has been at the center of other racial incidents, including a slur posted by an Ardrey Kell athlete on social media before a playoff game against West Charlotte in 2019.

Rose, who is African American and grew up in Ballantyne, says dealing with covert and open racism is one of the challenges of life at Ardrey Kell.

"You just know you're growing up and learning and having classmates in your classroom who might not see your life being equal and your life mattering," she said. "I've just gotten used to it at this point."

Switzer tweeted Sunday that "what was painted on the rock last night is not a representation of AK, the community or CMS. ... We stand for & support the movement towards social justice for all."      

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.