Racial slur spray painted at Hudson Middle School's athletic field

School, police officials investigate incident; graffiti also included obscenities

PHIL KEREN
Reporter
A group of young people staged protests on both Tuesday and Wednesday at the intersection of State Routes 91 and 303. The protests were organized in response to the death of George Floyd.

HUDSON — Even as demonstrators gathered on downtown sidewalks to join nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, school officials and police for the past week have been investigating obscene, racist graffiti that had been spray painted at the middle school’s athletic field.

At least one resident was upset that their child was confronted with the vandalism and reported the incident to police just after 7:30 p.m. on May 29. According to police, the resident arrived at the police station and reported “the harassment of her 15-year-old daughter in the form of graffiti,” at Lavelli Field, 65 N. Hayden Parkway.

Officers responded to the school, and the district was notified.

Hudson Police Chief Perry Tabak said Friday the case is being investigated. City spokesperson Jody Roberts added, “we have no further information at this time.”

Lavelli Field is located behind Hudson Middle School and was previously used by high school teams, but it is now used by the middle school and Hudson Community Education and Recreation programs.

Hudson schools Superintendent Phil Herman on Friday said he shared information on the incident earlier in the week with some alumni and other community members who had inquired about the May 29 incident.

In a message posted on the district’s website and sent out to district families Friday, Herman said the district is “working closely” with police on the investigation.

“The vandals spray painted obscenities, profanity, and a racial slur on the building and the pavement at Lavelli Field,” stated Herman. “Repairs began after police had completed their investigation at the site and were completed yesterday.”

Herman stated the district “does not condone, and will not tolerate words and/or actions that constitute racism or discrimination in any form. Such acts are deplorable, devastating, contrary to our school district’s values, and tarnish all humanity.”

Starting on Tuesday, protesters — mostly high-school and college-age young people — have gathered in downtown to demonstrate, carrying signs and yelling chants in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to oppose racism. 

On Friday, members of Temple Beth Shalom, the First Congregational Church of Hudson and Christ Church Episcopal were scheduled to gather for an "Interfaith Vigil for Justice and Peace" at 7 p.m. at the clock tower in Hudson. The groups were to walk together to each of their houses of worship in a “stand for justice and peace.”

In October, the school district had dealt with another racial incident. According to Herman, several female students “were in a high school bathroom when racially offensive language was being used. An African American student entered the bathroom and overheard and continued to hear the racially offensive language.”

He said two of the students then left the restroom and leaned their backs against the bathroom door, which prevented the other students inside from leaving.

At the time, Herman said the administration was working with the police department “regarding inappropriate and threatening social media posts directed at the African American student, as well as investigating other social media activity which occurred over the weekend.”

Editor’s note: Reporter April Helms contributed to this story.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.