Young kids cover up hateful graffiti with sidewalk chalk

Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 2:13 PM EST
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LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (WJLA) – Police in Virginia are investigating hateful and racist graffiti left at a local shopping center Friday.

But on Sunday morning, more than 50 Loudoun County residents showed up to make the bad situation a little better. By the afternoon, the disturbing images were covered up – thanks to a group of children hoping to spread love.

The graffiti included several racist words, LGBTQ slurs, antisemitic symbols and more.

“We’re better than this,” resident Pamela Manuel said. “This is not Loudoun. It’s not.”

Another resident, Meredith Ray, and her son Owen were among those who decided to take action after the graffiti was on display for about two days.

Owen, his friend William and more friends picked up sidewalk chalk and got to work. They scratched out the hateful words, slurs and symbols and turned them into something different.

“I did a giant box over it, and then I started adding flowers coming out of the box,” 9-year-old William said.

Ray said it was the kids’ idea to figure out how to cover up the graffiti with something that “looked nice instead of the awful things that were there.”

For other residents, seeing children get involved gives them hope for the future.

“Seeing the rainbow, it gives me hope because it means those little kids that were doing all this, they’re going to change it. They’re going to change the world,” Manuel said.

Todd Kaufman, a Jewish resident, said he found the graffiti “incredibly offensive” but was grateful for the kids who were there to cover it up.

“The next generation has shown that they’re not going to tolerate the hate,” Kaufman said.

Another volunteer brought his pressure washer, and kids took turns cleaning up the graffiti.

In addition to the vandalism in South Riding, similar graffiti was also discovered at the Dulles Landing shopping center. That incident is also under investigation.