Students gather in act of solidarity against racist incident

Junior Jasmine Andresol urges for unity in response to defacement of Black Student Union’s messages


Philip Rotondo

The school attempted to paint over the vandal’s work with white paint, but the underlying messages were still visible.

At around 9:23 p.m. on Feb. 8, an unknown party painted “ALM” (an abbreviation for All Lives Matter, a reactionary movement opposed to Black Lives Matter) on McLean’s rock, where clubs and sports teams paint public messages for the school. In the previous week, the school’s Black Student Union (BSU) painted the rock with pro-Black Lives Matter messages in honor of Black History Month.
“At first, like most of the people who heard, I was completely shocked,” said junior Jasmine Andresol, founder of the BSU. “I was angry, and I was dissatisfied.”
The school administration has reportedly identified the vandal, but the consequences they will face remain unclear.
“Suspension or expulsion are definitely proper punishments,’ Andresol said. “I definitely think that this should go on [the student’s] record because it’s not [right] if he goes on in his life being successful with this thing that he did. It’s not fair to us.”
In the morning following the incident, Andresol made a PA announcement to the school.
“As we walked to paint the rock last week, there were mixed emotions of joy and pride, but also fear,” Andresol said over the PA. “The fear was that someone would misunderstand the reason and meaning of why we decided to paint BLM on the rock.”

An unknown individual stands near the vandalized rock. The McLean administration is reported to have identified the vandal. (Philip Rotondo)

In the announcement, Andresol emphasized that the BSU’s aim was to foster unity, not division.
“When you hear or see the words Black Lives Matter, it does not mean that other lives do not,” Andresol said. “These words bring awareness to the struggles, injustices and racism that black people have endured in this country for far too long. These words that were meant to be a reminder to celebrate black history were seen as an opportunity to discourage our efforts.”
In response to the incident, Andresol and McLean admin scheduled a solidarity event immediately after school in support of Black Lives Matter. Students and staff alike gathered at the rock to hear Andresol speak on the issue.
“I really appreciated the event,” senior Gianna Di-Reumante said. “It brought light to Black Lives Matter and what it actually means. People who aren’t as educated…[have an opportunity to learn more and] realize that this is still important and is a problem that we still have today.”
Andresol’s words resonated with the members of the McLean community who were in attendance.
“[Her speech] told us a lot of things that we needed to hear and needed to know,” junior Nathan Kulp said. ”It reminded us that McLean can be a safe space if we want to make it a safe space. That was very impactful.”
Despite the support, Andresol noted that there was still work needed to foster a community of peace over hate. They urged students to speak up to not only raise black voices, but the voices of other underrepresented students.
“This is an act of racism,” Andresol said. “It’s not about my story, it’s about everyone’s story. I know all of you had incidents where you felt marginalized…there are multiple things that need to be improved on, and Black History is a place where we can start.”