Students and administrators at Boise State University have condemned an act of vandalism against a Black Lives Matter parade float that took place this weekend, ahead of the school’s homecoming festivities.
According to the Idaho Statesman, members of the Afro-Black Student Alliance had parked their golf-cart float in a campus garage on the night of October 14. When they returned the following morning to finish the project for the weekend’s “best float” competition, its decorations had been trashed—destruction, ABSA president Nnandii Alexander, claimed on Twitter, that was initially blamed on inclement weather:
Alexander also tweeted video of the float’s initial construction, which showed the golf cart festooned with balloons reading “Black Lives Matter” and bearing the names of black individuals killed by police.
Speaking with the Statesman, Alexander explained that in addition to the signs being torn off her group’s float, several of the balloons were popped, or their lettering wiped clean.
Despite–or perhaps because of—Alexander’s initial claims that she’d been told “the wind” was responsible for the damage done to the float, university president Bob Kustra issued a sternly worded statement in the early hours of Sunday morning. In it, he condemned the “vandalism” and pledged to support the ABSA should they choose to report the incident to local law enforcement.
Despite the damage done to their float, the group did participate in the homecoming parade the following day, with Alexander tweeting a picture of their new entry.
In response to the vandalism, community members have rallied around the hashtag #BlackBroncosMatter to show their support.
On its Facebook page, the Boise chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement also voiced support for the students, writing:
In our beautiful city of Boise, we are beginning to see some of the effects of people who are made uncomfortable by the fight to end systemic racism and inequality across the nation. Boise State University we stand with you in solidarity and are at your service in helping you in any way we can.
For the Afro-Black Student Alliance, the incident has been a troubling one, but it’s only left them more determined than ever to stand up and speak out in the face of adversity.
“My members remained strong and wanted to show the world that despite the trials and tribulations we faced, we are proud to be members of Afro-Black Student Alliance,” Alexander told the Statesman. “And we will not shut up.”