Gracie Staser is a student at Apex High School who had her artwork torn down by another student who was offended by her Black Lives Matter-themed project.
A mural 15-year-old Staser created was approved by the school’s administration and featured black victims of police brutality across white police officers with the words “My Blackness is Not a Weapon” across it. The powerful mural was inspired by the tragic death of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who was killed by police in his grandmother’s front yard.
“I just really felt strongly about what had happened, and if it should have happened,” she said during an interview at her home on Friday.
“People weren’t talking about it. People weren’t angry about it like I was. He became a Twitter moment, and that was it.”
Another student reportedly tore the mural down an hour after it was hung and Staser shared the experience on social media on Tuesday and received overwhelming support after Parkland survivor, Emma Gonzales shared her post.
Welcome to Apex High School
Where your mural about Black Lives Matter will get torn down the day it is finished
(this was a month of work BTW) pic.twitter.com/Hsefclz7Ga
— Gracie (@gracie_e_s) May 8, 2018
Once she saw how popular her post had become, Staser posted a message explaining her stance.
“I’m not against white people or against all police officers,” she wrote. “The police (officers) I put up on the wall were all known to have shot unarmed black people. … When I had this idea, I never thought I would be here now, writing a statement to over 30k people who liked my tweet and supported me even though this student tried to silence me.”
A video showing a male student tearing the mural down surfaced and the culprit, Mason Stewart, 16, admitted he did it.
This guy tore down the artwork of other students about police brutality today. Artwork that had been approved by the administration. This is the same guy who brought an All Lives Matter poster and “don’t tread on me” flag to our school walkout. Im just so done w ppl like this pic.twitter.com/1ElGj7szVw
— Jenna (@JennaDavenpor15) May 8, 2018
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js“Right when I saw the gun go up, that’s when I complained,” he said, “and it’s still up here since Monday so I tore it down. … It was very offensive and it’s pointing fingers to cops, and more likely white officers. And I have a lot of respect for officers because their job is not easy.”
Stewart isn’t sorry for his actions, but insists he isn’t a racist.
“I’m far from a racist. I respect everyone,” he told ABC11, before saying this kind of art is “dividing us really bad.”
The news network has reported that Stewart has been suspended until next week.
Apex Principal Diann Kearney posted a message on the school’s website.
“We want you to know that defacing school property for any reason is not tolerated at our school and appropriate disciplinary action is being taken. In addition, we are working with the (Wake County schools) Equity Affairs team to ensure that students are being heard and counseled in a positive and supportive manner. We will continue to encourage and facilitate dialogue and discussions around preventing such an incident from happening in the future. I am very proud of the students who have expressed their feelings and concerns about this incident.”
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Source: Entertainment – The Grio