AUSTIN (KXAN) — After antisemitic and hateful messages were painted over several parking spots at Anderson High School in northwest Austin, a group of students are painting a picture of what the school body really stands for.

Dozens of students and parents painted new picnic tables at the school Saturday with positive and hopeful messages as a sign of unity against recent acts of hate at the school and around Austin.

“We are, I think, still hurting as a campus so to have everyone come out and do something, one big common goal that we can work on together, it really makes everyone feel good and makes us feel united as an Anderson Community,” said Ford McCracken, a senior at Anderson High School.

The designs ranged from school spirt, to an Austin skyline, to hearts and a rainbow.

  • A finished table at Anderson High School
  • A finished table at Anderson High School
  • A finished table at Anderson High School

McCracken said in his nearly four years at Anderson, he’s never seen a hate crime to the extent of what happened late last month. He hopes this proves to whoever is responsible that hate won’t win at his school, even after he leaves for college to pursue his aspirations to continue making change as a politician.

“The symbols they put on our parking spaces and on our school property don’t represent Anderson, this represents Anderson,” McCracken said pointing to the students behind him who were busy painting tables. “We’re not going to fight fire with fire, we’re going to fight fire with paint.”

Austin-Travis County leaders respond to recent acts of hate

Over the past month, there have been several instances of antisemitic messages and hate crimes reported in Austin. Most recently, the Austin Fire Department says a man intentionally set a synagogue on fire. The department is asking for the public’s help to identify him.

While the fire was put out quickly, leaders at Congregation Beth Israel sent an email to its members that said it will take a while to reopen because the smoke in the sanctuary damaged the ceiling tiles and the doors.

The fire at the synagogue happened just a few days after antisemitic banners were seen hanging from a busy Austin overpass. The week before that, the hateful messages were found at Anderson High School.

As a result of the recent acts of hate, both the City of Austin and Travis County have passed resolutions in support of the Jewish community. Both bodies have asked that residents call out and report acts of hate.

If you or someone you know has experienced a hate crime, you can find resources on the Hate Crimes Task Force’s website.

You can also report an antisemitic, bias or discriminatory incident on the Anti-Defamation League’s website.