Suspicion rises after repeated disappearance of BLM sign

The+repeated+removal+of+one+of+IB+Spanish+teacher+Rebecca+Lewis%E2%80%99+%E2%80%9CBlack+Lives+Matter%E2%80%9D+sign+has+sparked+conversation+about+campus+security.

Hope Rasa

The repeated removal of one of IB Spanish teacher Rebecca Lewis’ “Black Lives Matter” sign has sparked conversation about campus security.

Hope Rasa, Sports Editor

At the beginning of the school year, IB Spanish teacher Rebecca Lewis taped a small Black Lives Matter sign to the inside of her classroom door window. A few days after the sign was initially put up, it went missing. 

She printed out a new sign and put it in the same place the previous one had been, this time using more tape to secure it to the window. That sign went missing too, prompting her to reach out to Assistant Principal Joseph Mismas

“Around this time, I spoke with Mismas just to double-check that it was ok for staff to display these signs. Which it is,” said Lewis. 

Lewis printed a third sign and attached it to cardstock before placing it in her window, but when she returned from winter break shortly after, the sign was gone. 

She mounted a fourth sign to the window, with “Do not remove” written on the side facing the classroom. This sign also disappeared. 

Lewis said she found it interesting that her BLM sign disappeared since there are other signs in her classrooms with political messages, including another BLM sign, that did not go missing. 

“On the window next to my classroom door, I have other signs that say ‘Everyone is welcome,’ ‘Love is love,’ ‘Black lives matter’ and no one has removed it, the pride sign, or the ‘immigrants are welcome’ sign. Only the small BLM with fist sign. Maybe because it’s the easiest one to remove, more accessible. No clue. But it definitely feels deliberate,” said Lewis. 

Campus supervisor Ric Calhoun said that the reason they have been led to believe the sign didn’t just fall off the window is that it kept coming up missing and the other signs didn’t. 

“It feels extraordinarily coincidental that the same sign was taken down every single time while other signs weren’t,” Calhoun said. 

Lewis said she has no idea who could be behind the removal of the sign, and she doesn’t want to place blame on at anyone because other than the repeated disappearance of the sign, there is no evidence of foul play. 

I have shared these incidents with people around me and close to my classroom; it is my hope that by spreading the word, whoever is behind this knows that I know. I am persistent. If it comes down again, I will just put it back up. I will try more tape; this most recent time, I used duct tape. If someone thinks this is a game or that they can stop me from displaying the sign, they haven’t seen how persistent I can be,” Lewis said. 

After the fourth sign went missing, Lewis notified principal Adam Desautels and other members of her department about the incident. She also asked Calhoun whether one of the school’s security cameras might have caught footage of someone removing her sign. There are no cameras aimed directly toward Lewis’ classroom. The closest one is positioned near the door to Sherwood’s Forest, and Lewis’ room is completely outside its line of sight. 

Calhoun said that there is currently a plan underway to handle this situation, but he declined to share more information at the time. He also said that prior to the incident in Lewis’ room, there was already a plan in place to set up new security cameras around campus, including one near Lewis’ room. 

“We’ve been working on replacing a lot of the cameras. We’ve had 25-30 cameras that have already been replaced this year,” Calhoun said. 

 Lewis said that while she is not involved with this new campus security plan, she thinks that a school as big as Inglemoor needs more campus monitors. 

“Mr. Calhoun is wonderful, and he does a great job, but frankly, we need more support from the district,” Lewis said. 

Lewis said she doesn’t know why someone might have stolen her signs. 

“​I hope someone doesn’t think this is a funny joke. It’s not funny. It makes me sad to think this is deliberate,” said Lewis. “This is my classroom, and I am allowed to display my support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I know that there are many differences of opinion at IHS. I welcome a respectful debate, but the continued removal of this sign is not the way to go about this debate.”

According to Black Student Union member *Jordan Shanely, there have been other instances of anti-black vandalism on campus, including the repeated shredding of BSU fliers posted in the halls and an incident in which someone painted over the BSU mural. 

BSU vice president Beamlak Tesfaye said she does not feel particularly unsafe or threatened by the stolen sign incident because the constant racism on campus has desensitized her. 

“In comparison to other events, this one seems really small, which should say a lot about how normalized racism is. Still, the fact that it’s happened so many times is concerning and makes me feel slightly uneasy,” Tesfaye said. 

Junior BSU member Amari Love said that he feels that this incident is representative of a larger issue at Inglemoor, which is ignorance, and a lack of students of color. 

“When the majority of the school’s population is white, it’s difficult for African American students’ issues to stand out and seem important,” said Love. “I don’t think we have a voice at all. It’s really scary to think about how the entire black population at Inglemoor barely fills up a classroom.” 

Tesfaye said she thinks the small black population at Inglemoor makes white students feel like they can get away with racist acts. 

“The saying that there’s strength in numbers is true. The ratio between black and non-black students is overwhelmingly large and makes the significantly smaller population of black people vulnerable. I think we’re also vulnerable because we feel like our problems as black people at Inglemoor aren’t as significant or prioritized as much as they should be,” Tesfaye said. 

Junior BSU member Fardowsa Mohamud said she feels like Black students don’t have a proper community at Inglemoor. 

“I honestly think Black students here don’t have a good support system. If I hadn’t taken IB English this year, I wouldn’t have a Black teacher at all,” Mohamud said. “When you don’t see teachers who look like you, you feel singled out because there probably aren’t going to be kids in your class that look like you either. So I’m thankful that we have a [Black Student Union] at Inglemoor because if we didn’t, I’d feel much more isolated.” 

*names marked with asterisks have been changed for anonymity