Vandals broke into one of the buildings at the Salish School of Spokane on North Maple Street overnight Thursday and scrawled racial slurs on the walls.
Staff noticed the damage Friday morning but there were no signs as to how the person entered the building. Staff erased what they could and covered up what they couldn’t and went on with their day, said board member Danica Parkin.
“We didn’t want to interrupt their routines,” she said of the children. “They don’t know anything happened.”
Someone tore down part of a tree craft project in one room but otherwise didn’t cause any damage, Parkin said. “As far as we know, there isn’t anything missing,” she said.
The Native American immersion school offers child care programs and classes to 70 children ages 1 to 11 in the Salish language.
Executive director LaRae Wiley said the vandalism caught her by surprise since the school hasn’t had any problems before.
“It was shocking,” Wiley said. “Whenever I experience racism and hatred it always catches me off guard because I know Spokane isn’t that way. We support inclusivity and diversity.”
The school has been welcomed in the past, she said. “We have great neighbors,” she said. “The community has been so supportive.”
While the Salish School has not previously been a target, racist vandalism and sentiments have cropped up elsewhere around Spokane in recent weeks. On April 28 vandals scrawled anti-semitic messages on the downtown Community Building, home to many local groups that promote equality. This week, a racist video depicting a rally at Washington State University surfaced on social media, prompting an investigation by the school.
The Spokane Police Department came to the school and took pictures for their investigation, Wiley said.
The school will renew its efforts to get a grant to pay for security cameras to help deter future incidents, she said.
“We do have a pretty threadbare budget,” Parkin said.
In the meantime the school plans a painting party and community rally at the school at 4125 N. Maple at 3 p.m. Saturday. People are invited to come and paint over the graffiti and show their support.
“We’re going to have some elders come and speak and pray and drum,” Wiley said. “We’ll stand against hate. As Native people, we’ve always been here, and we’ll always be here.”
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