The office of an African American employee of the U.S. Department of Education was vandalized earlier this week, and other employees have expressed concern that the attack may have been racially motivated. African art figurines were found beheaded, with their limbs removed, and a school desegregation poster was damaged, according to Education Department employees and a congressional aide.
The incident happened at the department’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, the employees and the aide told NBC News. The department said the employee had been out of the office for several days and reported the incident on Tuesday afternoon, NBC News reports.
The poster, which was pulled off the wall and damaged, was believed to depict Ruby Bridges, an African American schoolgirl who became an icon of the civil rights movement, sources told NBC News. Some of the employee’s co-workers are now looking for copies of the poster to put up in their own offices to show solidarity, they added.
“We can confirm there was an incident involving an employee’s personal belongings on the third floor,” Angela Morabito, an Education Department spokesperson, said. “Secretary DeVos took immediate action, including referring the case to Federal Protective Services for a comprehensive investigation, increasing building security, and most importantly, ensuring the impacted employee was supported.”