Signs put up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement outside of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study were found vandalized on June 27 and 28. The signs were partially or fully obscured by black spray paint, and after being flipped around, they were vandalized again the next day.
In a statement to The Varsity, a U of T spokesperson wrote that Campus Police reported the incident to the Toronto Police Service, which is investigating the situation.
The Laboratory School at U of T’s Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study serves nursery-aged children to sixth-graders and acts as a child development lab at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
“I think that everyone is devastated by this,” Richard Messina, the school’s principal, said. “This vandalism reveals that racism exists right here in our community, literally on our doorstep.”
As a result of a discussion on the widespread protests against anti-Black racism, several sixth-graders at the school decided to make the signs. According to Messina, the posters were an expression of “trying to make sense of what was happening in the world and in their very own community.”
Messina said that the school is working on replacing the signs and will place them out of reach “to protect the children from having their work defaced again.” In addition, they hope to communicate with the community to explain what happened and to affirm the school’s commitment to fighting anti-Black racism.
A video of the first incident posted on Twitter by longtime Annex resident and U of T alum Kinga Potrzebowski shows that the building had approximately 11 signs in support of Black Lives Matter in front of its fence, all of which were at least partially obscured by black spray paint.
On two of the signs that depicted the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” the word “Black” was covered up by spray paint. The phrase “this is not ok” was entirely covered up by spray paint on one sign, and another sign that read “Black Lives Matter” and “George Floyd” had a large “X” spray-painted over it.
Someone vandalized all of the BLM signs that an Elementary School had out our last night in the Annex.
— kinga potrzebowski (@kinga_p) June 27, 2020
“The person who did this was sending a message that they didn’t want BLM messaging in their neighbourhood… and [that] to them Black Lives don’t matter,” Potrzebowski wrote in an email to The Varsity.