LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - An investigation is underway in Ashburn after vandals targeted a historic African-American schoolhouse, covering it with racist and vulgar graffiti, including swastikas and the words, 'White Power.'
The vandalism was discovered early Saturday and is believed to have happened overnight. Investigators on scene told FOX 5 they have little evidence as to who did it.
The hateful words and symbols are especially devastating because, for the last two years, students with Loudoun School for the Gifted have been working to restore the building and turn it into a museum. They had already replaced the foundation and had just put in new windows.
“My mom pulls me aside and tells me about it, and then I absolutely sank,” said seventh-grader Taz Foreman, who is part of the project. “Because I was like, ‘How could someone ever do this? Like, why would you ever do this?’”
Through bake sales and other fundraisers, students had raised about $25,000 for the project with a goal of $100,000.
“We were really excited about the progress, so when we learned (about the vandalism) this morning, it was pretty shocking to hear,” said Deep Sran, who founded Loudoun School for the Gifted.
“It’s kind of really scary to know there are people OK with doing this,” Foreman said.
As sheriff’s investigators looked for evidence Saturday afternoon, people came to see the damage for themselves.
“It’s very sad, it’s very upsetting,” said Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
Randall is the first African-American woman to hold her position in the state of Virginia.
“I realize the people who learned in this schoolhouse were the people who paved the way to do what I do today,” Randall said. “And so the connection to this house and this history for me is very personal.”
“You’re originally shocked, you’re frustrated, you’re angry,” Sran said. “Then people step up. And it renews your optimism and your faith that it will work out in the end. We’ll fix it.”
Anyone with any information regarding this case is asked to call the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office at 703-777-1021. Callers wishing to remain anonymous are asked to call Loudoun Crime Solvers at 703-777-1919.
If the information provided to Crime Solvers leads to an arrest and indictment, the caller could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1000.