CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The vandalism of a sign in support of the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked an opportunity for black voices to speak in their community.
The vandalism happened to Ashten Spilker two nights in a row last week along the quiet neighborhood street she calls home in Carmel.
But when two of her friends, who are black, asked for help to plan a sit-in and bring awareness to the issue, she jumped at the chance. The damaged sign is an experience which has changed her view of the neighborhood, saying it made her feel unsafe in a way she never expected to feel.
“This neighborhood means so much,” Spilker said.
The home is one her grandparents lived on for more than 40 years before they passed away.
But her simple message of #BlackLivesMatter got more complex Thursday morning.
She woke up to find the sign vandalized, posting her first ever Facebook video.
She fixed it, only to have it happen again on Friday.
Still, she’s clear this story, “this isn’t about me, this isn’t about my sign.”
It may have ended there, until two of her friends from high school, both who are black, contacted her, asking for her help to plan a sit-in in Carmel.
So Sunday afternoon, June 14, there will be a rally at the Carmel gazebo with speakers, performers, food and even a raffle to raise money for causes like the bail fund.
Spilker said organizers are planning on reaching out to the Indy10 Black Lives Matter movement for suggested causes.
It will feature minority-owned businesses. One of the speakers is the president of the Black Student Union at Carmel High School. There will be a march at the conclusion.
Spilker initially planned for 60 people, but more than a thousand so far have shown interest on social media.
Her message to the vandals is one you might not expect.
“As to who it was, that doesn’t matter to me,” she said. “I actually just need to say ‘thank you.’ Thank you for putting a fire under our butts to do something like this and put something like this on.”
Spilker said she was shocked and saddened by the damage to her sign.
“But it also made me really determined,” she said. “For a neighborhood that shaped me, this is what it shaped me into.”
She said the Woodland Green neighborhood looks a little different now, even if the sign has been left untouched for almost a week.
“I would love to say no, but I think there are wounds that are going to have to heal,” Spilker said.
The rally is planned for Sunday afternoon between 3 and 5 p.m. Spilker and the other organizers are meeting with Carmel police later this week to map out a route for a march at 5 p.m.