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Racially Charged Vandalism Targets Idaho Black History Museum

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Idaho Black History Museum Executive Director Phillip Thompson helmed a meeting of the museum's board of directors in the predawn hours of Tuesday, Dec. 7. At approximately 8:15 a.m., Thompson stepped outside the meeting at the Julia Davis building that houses the museum and, in the sunrise, noticed something scrawled in the snow on the low roof of a nearby outbuilding: the word, "nigger."

"It's feckless," said Thompson. "There's nothing that comes of it."

Thompson told Boise Weekly that no other evidence of vandalism was found; and he was happy no damage had been done to the building. But when he shared a photo of the vandalism on social media, it sparked a flood of support for the museum and its mission. Thompson said he quickly began receiving comments of encouragement and an influx of donations—even a small bouquet of flowers.

"I'm assuming the action was supposed to hurt my feelings, but it had the opposite effect," Thompson said.

While he suspects the vandalism may be the work of an individual or small group of people, Thompson said he believed the kinds of people who would scrawl racially insensitive language on the roof of a black history museum are the exception, not the rule, in the City of Trees.

"That's Boise," he said. "Boise's good people."

Nevertheless, Thompson said it may be "indicative of the current state of affairs," following a contentious and often racially charged election in November.

Coincidentally, the Idaho Black History Museum is scheduled to host a forum about race and religious relations in the wake of the election with ACLU-Idaho Monday, Dec. 12.

Editor's Note: This article has been altered to correctly identify the location where the racial slur was found.


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