‘Black Lives Matter’ altered to read ‘All Lives Matter’; UConn calls it an ‘act of anti-Blackness’
McKenna Dallmeyer, Campus Reform
- The University of Connecticut condemned the phrase “All Lives Matter” painted over the “Black Lives Matter.”
- Because the painting was put over a “Black Lives Matter” painting, the school’s diversity office called it an “act of Anti-Blackness.”
The message on a free expression rock at the University of Connecticut was changed from “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter.” In response, the school president said he was “sorry” to have seen the change.
Spirit Rock is an 11,000+ pound “landmark” on the campus of the University of Connecticut. Messages pertaining to social events, political or social justice sentiments, and school spirit have been painted on the rock since the 1940s. The Spirit Rock’s latest message reading “Black Lives Matter” was changed to “All Lives Matter” after someone scratched out the word “Black” and replaced it with “All.”
In a tweet, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion said that the new message “defaced” the Spirit Rock.
In another tweet, the office added that the alteration was an “act of Anti-Blackness.”
“Ironically, the decision to whiteout “Black” and replace it with “All” reinforces exactly why there is a need to have a Black Lives Matter statement in the first place,” a follow-up tweet said.
UConn Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Franklin Tuitt and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Gilbert released a statement expressing their grievances about the incident.
“While we are relieved that the person responsible is not a member of our community, that doesn’t change what took place, which we saw as an unmistakable attempt to antagonize and demean people on our campuses, especially in the context of national events. We deeply regret the harm that this incident has had on members of our community,” the statement reads.
“Someday in an ideal world maybe all lives will matter equally, but for too long black lives have suffered discrimination and racism. I’m sorry to see our Spirit Rock altered as it was today, and the insensitivity to that context that it represents,” Katsouleas wrote.
UConn senior Anna Holland told Campus Reform that she “agrees [with the university] that this is an insensitive way of spreading a message.”
“I also agree that the vandalizing of public property is the wrong approach. I will not condone the ALM movement, as I disagree with the actions taken by many of its members. However, I feel the same about BLM, as I disagree with many of their actions (ex: vandalizing public property). In short, I agree that the message as well as the way it was presented are each insensitive, but I am comforted that it was not committed by a UConn student,” Holland continued.
UConn College Republicans president Tom Heuschkel released a statement to Campus Reform regarding the incident.
“We strongly condemn the actions of the individual(s) who vandalized the ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural on UConn’s Spirit Rock. It is disheartening that this expres[sion] of free speech required treading on the voices of others. We condemn all intolerance; in any form that it may arise,” the statement read.
According to NBC Connecticut, after reviewing video footage, UConn determined it was not a member of the university or surrounding city who painted the rock. The action was not considered a crime by the state’s attorney office, so no charges will be filed.
The Spirit Rock has since been repainted to read “Black Lives Matter” once again.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @redwave1776