Last fall, students at James John Elementary installed a number of painted murals on the outside of the North Portland school. One of the murals depicts a rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride and solidarity, and a raised fist, an icon frequently associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Monday morning, a brown substance, suspected to be feces by several parents, was found smeared across the mural. It’s not clear when the vandalism took place.
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
Laura Streib is a mother of two kids at James John. She and her daughter worked on the Black Lives Matter and rainbow flag mural last fall. As she drove by the mural Monday morning, she saw something that looked like chunky dirt smeared across it. She stopped the car to take a closer look.
The brown matter on the plywood mural, Streib says, had the consistency of feces. (A picture of the defaced mural shared with WW shows the matter was smeared over nearly the entire image. It also shows pieces of toilet paper mixed in with the brown substance, which is partially dried.)
(Update, 4:40 pm Monday: Streib says the school custodian who cleaned it up told her it appeared to be a clay substance, not feces.)
On Monday afternoon, Streib walked into the school and told the principal’s secretary about the mural. But another parent of a child at James John, Kylie Forslund, tells WW she first spotted it and reported it to the school on Friday, but that it wasn’t cleaned up.
“I glanced at it quickly and just instantly knew [it was feces],” says Forslund. “It had a green, mudlike consistency.”
Streib filed a police report shared with Nicole Nares Carrillo, tells WW that the school principal is aware of the incident and in contact with the district about it. When asked if the school was aware of the incident last Friday and that it wasn’t immediately cleaned up, Nares Carrillo said she could not comment.
Streib filed a police report and shared with WW on Monday afternoon.
The latest data tracking Portland Public Schools show that 34% of students at James John are Hispanic and 7% are African American. White students make up 44% of the school population. It’s also a school with a large number of low-income students: Almost 40% of students are eligible for the free meal program, more than at most schools in the district.