Controversy is brewing in Mountain Home over a parking spot painted in a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement.
More than 100 Mountain Home High School students gathered in silent protest in the school's parking lot Tuesday morning, many skipping classes in order to remain in the lot into the afternoon.
The painted parking spots began as part of a fundraiser for Mountain Home High School's homecoming dance.
Students were allowed to buy a parking spot for $45, and then paint it how they chose. Every student had to have their design approved ahead of time.
One student painted a woman's face with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter underneath.
But when a photo of this painting went viral, so did rumors that the superintendent was going have all the paintings in the parking lot power washed.
The students, who declined to speak to KTVB on camera, say their silent protest is aimed at showing solidarity for the painting and what it represents.
One woman who came by to drop off supplies said she wanted to show the students that they were not alone
"A lot of the community is actually supporting them, they just can't be here at the time," Natasha Pomerlee said.
The student who painted the parking stall also declined to go on camera but said she's overwhelmed by the support of her peers.
The protest is gaining a lot of attention from other students and the community. During the school's lunch hour lots more people came out to see what was taking place in the parking lot.
Residents at a home near Mountain Home High School moved a Confederate flag display to the sidewalk after students gathered in the lot.
The issue is expected to be raised at a school board meeting at 7:30 p.m.
Officials at Mountain Home High School have declined to comment, and multiple calls to Superintendent James Gilbert have gone unreturned.
However, Gilbert did issue the following statement via email Tuesday afternoon:
The controversy surrounding the Mountain Home High School parking lot has been inaccurately portrayed by the media and on social media. The issue has absolutely nothing to do with the content in the student murals. To my knowledge mural painting on parking lot surfaces by students has never been allowed in the Mountain Home School District. With good intentions the building principal gave the students permission to paint parking spots if they participated in a fundraiser. This is the type of project that must be approved at the district level. Had this request come through the proper channels it would have been denied. The district does not allow students to paint parking lots with murals, just as we wouldn’t allow students to paint lockers or desks. I want to be clear that the students have done absolutely nothing wrong and I support their right to protest and take civic responsibility regarding social issues that impact their lives.
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