A teddy bear was hung from a noose at a North Carolina high school and a football stadium and baseball field were damaged on Tuesday (30 May). Wakefield High School principal Malik Bazzell described the act as "deeply offensive" in a letter to parents.
The teddy bear, which was called a doll in Bazzell's letter, was hung overnight from the North Raleigh school's roof, The News & Observer reported. A sign saying, "Make Wakefield Tripp again #smartlunch" hung beside the bear.
"Let me be clear: This was an offensive act that has no place in our school," Bazzell said. "The imagery is deeply offensive and everyone in our school community should be appalled."
The display was reportedly a display of some students' hope to have former principal Tripp Crayton return to the school. According to The News & Observer, Bazzell, who is black, became principal in 2015 after Crayton, who is white, left for Jordan-Matthews High School in Chatham County.
Taylor Rosbrook, a 17-year-old student at Wakefield, told reporters that Bazzell is stricter about school rules than Crayton.
Bazzell is working with the Wake County school system's security department to investigate, he told The News & Observer. He told parents that the act could have been a senior prank, but added: "It is in no way funny. It is not a prank. This, along with the acts of vandalism that occurred in the stadium and the baseball field will not be tolerated."
"It's deeply offensive to our community and to Wakefield High School," Wake County Schools said on Twitter about the incident. "It's wrong and will not be tolerated."
The school's Black Student Union announced it is meeting on Wednesday (31 May) "for anyone who needs a safe space to discuss this or anyone who wants to say something." Photos of the teddy bear have been shared on social media, with students denouncing the act as "racist" and a "hate crime".
According to WNCN, Bazzell said criminal charges are being sought against the perpetrators.