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Off-duty officer washed away Hillcrest Elementary students' BLM chalk art

An off-duty police officer has repeatedly washed away Black Lives Matter messages written in chalk at Hillcrest Elementary School in Catonsville, the 11 News I-Team has learned.Students who wrote the messages said they want black students to feel welcome when they return to school.A man caught in a photo, who was identified by Baltimore County police as an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction, has been washing away students' Black Lives Matter messages."I don't understand why they are washing it away. It's just a silent protest kind of," said Stanley Simonsen, a student."Somebody erasing it hurts because I have lots of black friends, and when someone thinks they don't have the same chances as someone else, it just makes me feel really sad," said William Fox, a neighbor of the school.After schools closed in March, students started drawing chalk messages on the building about how much they loved school and supported their teachers.Following the police in-custody death o f George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Gabe Plusen, a former student, wrote a Black Lives Matter message on the building in support of his sister, who will be attending kindergarten at the school next year."With all that's going on right now, I thought Catonsville needed to have a change, and I wanted to make it better for her and any other black person that is coming into the school and in the community," Plusen said.But police said an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction kept washing the Black Lives Matter messages away. But doing so inspired more messages."More people are coming back every time, and we are writing more so the whole school is covered," said Caen Plusen, a former student."(It) makes me feel kind of angry because we worked really hard on this. I don't get why they have a problem with it," said Noah Rice, a former student.School officials released the following statement: "A complaint of graffiti initiated a facilities response to wash it. Facilities was not aware of the art. A police officer -- not Baltimore County -- was assertive in his request to take it down. We declined. Baltimore County police have been fantastic in protecting the mural and our families as they create."Erasing Black Lives Matter messages has become a teachable moment."I'm telling them that black lives matter. I'm telling them this is an important moment in history, and I'm telling them that there is a lesson to be learned about what's right and what's wrong," said Chris Grybauskas, a parent."I think that, for children, this is so important for a lot of them. This is their first political statement. I think the message we send to them -- messages of love and the importance of valuing black lives -- and say to them they have to take that down, that is crushing for children," said Michelle Duberry, a parent. "It is important to let children lead the way. It is important to let them express themselves.""I think if you are offended by that phrase, then you are the reason we have to have the message up on the school to begin with," said Monica Simonsen, a parent.The students vow that if the messages get erased, they will write new ones.

CATONSVILLE, Md. —

An off-duty police officer has repeatedly washed away Black Lives Matter messages written in chalk at Hillcrest Elementary School in Catonsville, the 11 News I-Team has learned.

Students who wrote the messages said they want black students to feel welcome when they return to school.

A man caught in a photo, who was identified by Baltimore County police as an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction, has been washing away students' Black Lives Matter messages.

"I don't understand why they are washing it away. It's just a silent protest kind of," said Stanley Simonsen, a student.

"Somebody erasing it hurts because I have lots of black friends, and when someone thinks they don't have the same chances as someone else, it just makes me feel really sad," said William Fox, a neighbor of the school.

After schools closed in March, students started drawing chalk messages on the building about how much they loved school and supported their teachers.

Following the police in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Gabe Plusen, a former student, wrote a Black Lives Matter message on the building in support of his sister, who will be attending kindergarten at the school next year.

"With all that's going on right now, I thought Catonsville needed to have a change, and I wanted to make it better for her and any other black person that is coming into the school and in the community," Plusen said.

But police said an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction kept washing the Black Lives Matter messages away. But doing so inspired more messages.

"More people are coming back every time, and we are writing more so the whole school is covered," said Caen Plusen, a former student.

"(It) makes me feel kind of angry because we worked really hard on this. I don't get why they have a problem with it," said Noah Rice, a former student.

School officials released the following statement: "A complaint of graffiti initiated a facilities response to wash it. Facilities was not aware of the art. A police officer -- not Baltimore County -- was assertive in his request to take it down. We declined. Baltimore County police have been fantastic in protecting the mural and our families as they create."

Erasing Black Lives Matter messages has become a teachable moment.

"I'm telling them that black lives matter. I'm telling them this is an important moment in history, and I'm telling them that there is a lesson to be learned about what's right and what's wrong," said Chris Grybauskas, a parent.

"I think that, for children, this is so important for a lot of them. This is their first political statement. I think the message we send to them -- messages of love and the importance of valuing black lives -- and say to them they have to take that down, that is crushing for children," said Michelle Duberry, a parent. "It is important to let children lead the way. It is important to let them express themselves."

"I think if you are offended by that phrase, then you are the reason we have to have the message up on the school to begin with," said Monica Simonsen, a parent.

The students vow that if the messages get erased, they will write new ones.

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