After a hate crime at a Maryland middle school, community members came together in a show of unity and kindness.
On Friday, Anne Arundel County Police arrested two 19-year-old men accused of hanging a noose at Crofton Middle School in Crofton Thursday.
Sunday evening, dozens of people gathered at the school to write supportive messages to students with sidewalk chalk.
"I've lived in Crofton for 11 years and I know this to be a welcoming, positive, inviting community," organizer Kristen Caminiti told the crowd. "The fact that anybody would come into our community and spread a message that says anything other than that is absolutely unacceptable."
Crofton sixth-grader Alana Witter and her family were among those who came. Alana says she saw the noose from a window Thursday before school officials became aware of it.
"At first I thought it was just a rope hanging from a light and then I looked closely and I saw what it actually was," she said. "And I was shocked, like this must be an accident or something."
Alana said she wanted to leave school and called her mother.
"I was actually really sad," Alana said. "I wanted to go home, but I didn't go home because, like, I didn't want them to be happy that we were reacting to it."
Alana's mother said she was thrilled to see how many people came out to counter the hateful act.
"The fact that my community rejected it in the way they did and all showed up on Mother's Day of all the holidays, really makes a difference to me," said Melissa Witter.
With so much help, the pavement around the school was covered with positive messages and images in less than an hour.
Seventh-grader Iris Levandoski says she hopes it will serve as a reminder to students as they come to school Monday.
"A whole school with a thousand people is so much bigger than two people hanging up a noose," Iris said. "And that (students) have some, like, light to their day."
Conner Charles Prout and John Adam Havermann, both 19 years old, are facing charges of trespassing, disturbing school operations, disturbing the peace and hate crime harassment.
Investigators say the suspects were seen on surveillance video gaining access to the roof of Crofton Middle School during the early morning hours on Thursday. The noose was placed on a light fixture in front of a window of a teacher planning room.
After police released images of the suspects, they were both apprehended Friday.