CLEARWATER, Kan. (KSNW) – Did a toilet paper prank in Clearwater go too far? Clifford and Rayna Easiley say that’s exactly what happened overnight Thursday into Friday.
“I don’t really even believe I’m having this conversation with you, to put it frankly,” said Rayna.
Rayna and Clifford are African American and say they are one of the few families of color in the Clearwater area. They also say they are stunned after they made a discovery Friday morning in the bushes at their home when they began cleaning up toilet paper.
“Then we reached our bushes where there were cotton balls. And at first, it didn’t affect me at all until I realized what I was doing,” said Rayna. “I was picking cotton out of my own bushes.”
Cotton found in bushes in Clearwater on Sept. 21, 2023 (Courtesy: Easiley family)
A tradition in Clearwater can clearly be seen across town, as kids toilet-papered homes ahead of the football game Friday.
But the Easiley family said they were the only ones that got cotton in their bushes. And they believe it was intentionally meant to have racist tones.
“As a parent, I want to see this turn into a teaching moment,” said Rayna. “For those who were involved to learn their lesson and realize that it’s not OK. Bullying in any form.”
“My kids are affected by what’s happening,” said Clifford. “This is an outrage.”
KSN reached out to the Easiley family after learning from others in the community that cotton was placed in their bushes. The Easiley family did not seek out media attention but did agree to talk with KSN.
School leaders and community members are also reaching out to KSN with a response to the incident.
Jason Johnson, the superintendent of schools at USD 264, sent KSN a statement about what happened.
“We celebrate diversity and do not tolerate any actions that are contrary to that. At this time we are analyzing our options but due to this not being on school grounds or during the school day we are limited in our scope of what we may be able to do. We are working with all involved to resolve this issue and continue to ensure our learning environment is inclusive of all students,” wrote Johnson.
The principal of one of the schools was also on the phone with Rayna on Friday, assuring her the school was interested in getting to the bottom of who could have been involved.
The Easiley family says they want to have a broader conversation with the community.
“We have always been welcomed and felt safe here,” said Rayna. “It means a lot they (school leaders) are actually taking this seriously and that they’ve reached out the way they have and are trying to make it right. We live here, and we love it here.”