Amherst residents want answers after racist graffiti was found

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amherst residents are demanding answers after a message found in a high school bathroom called an African American math teacher a derogatory term.

More than 100 people came to the School Committee meeting Tuesday night to support Carolyn Gardner. She said she’s been a target of several “malicious, hostile and racist” attacks.

“How could you even think the use of this word does not threaten violence?” A powerful message to the Amherst Regional School Committee Tuesday night.

Carolyn Gardner, a high school math teacher, spoke against racism and demanded that the school administration find out who wrote the racist message, calling her the N-word, on a bathroom stall.

She said, “Given the violent history of that word, the years of oppression and humiliation associated with it, the N-word attacks and demeans me.”

The racist graffiti was found in a third floor girls’ bathroom. Gardner’s friends told 22News this is not the first time Gardner has been a target of racist messages.

“The administrators do not get on these things right away. Do not speak freely, and we know that racism thrives when people are silent,” Sonji Johnson-Anderson said.

Kirsten Helmer of Hadley told 22News her son graduated from the Amherst Regional High School last year.

“I’m very appalled because we felt very much connected to the school and very proud that our son was able to go here. And I would hope that not just the school but the whole community really addresses what is going on here right now,” she said.

Gardner has not returned to school, and police are still looking for whoever may be responsible for the graffiti.