CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A man says he was celebrating his birthday with friends on the Catawba River when they saw it— a rock spray painted with a Confederate Flag, and a racial slur written over it.
"Felt like it was something from the 60's,” said Parron Baxter. He’s the 32-year-old who saw the rock while enjoying a day on the river.
He says 30 minutes into the trip, they spotted the rock with the flag and the words "f*** you n*****" in plain view of the river.
"Had my wife there, a lot of work friends," Baxter told FOX 46.
The message set a somber tone on what was supposed to be a day of fun.
"The mood changed for the remaining three and a half hours of the trip,” said Baxter.
But, he says rather than hold on to the negativity, they're turning the hateful message into a positive one.
"The collective eight of us who were on the raft have made a pack and do something called 'Reclaim the Rock'."
He says local artists have now volunteered to help repaint the rock.
"[It] made me think about ‘what can I tell my son? What can I tell my three-year-old son?’ When he gets older and reads the textbooks about the 60's and this happened to me that I sat back and did nothing. I want my son to be proud of me. I want my family to be proud of me. I want people in the community see we don't have to sit back idly."
For them, it's a way to bring light to a dark situation.
The rock is on property that belongs to Crescent Communities. They tell FOX 46 the rock will be repainted on Wednesday, and released this statement:
Crescent Communities owns more than 500 acres in the area, and we’ve confirmed that includes the wooded land along the Catawba where the vandalism occurred. Our leadership is so disappointed and sadden that this would take place on our property, or anywhere. Given the location is somewhat remote and the difficulty of directing someone to the specific site, two leaders from the company plan to go out and paint over the rock on Wednesday to ensure this is completed with minimal delay. We appreciate that this was brought to our attention.