The crisis that engulfed a Southern California community after video of high school students throwing Nazi salutes went viral earlier this week has ignited anew with the uncovering of yet more videos.
Los Angeles television station KABC reported the new find Tuesday. KABC footage from three videos – two from 2018 and another from 2016 – shows students sitting in a circle as they raise their hands in a Nazi salute; a pair goose-stepping while carrying a German flag; and a student wearing a Confederate flag as a cape.
Pacifica High School is in Garden Grove in Orange County, about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
“We’ve recently received new allegations, new photos and video even within the last hour and new claims that have led us to reopen and widen the scope of our investigation,” said Pacifica Principal Steve Osborne at a Tuesday school board meeting recorded by KABC.
Garden Grove Unified School District had scrambled this week to respond to the November 2018 video, first reported by the Daily Beast, of Pacifica High School water polo team members engaged in the Sieg Heil salute while singing the marching song “Erika” in a banquet room before a school event.
The district “strongly condemned” the video and reopened a hate speech investigation into the incident.
“This is a crisis for our community,” Garden Grove district officials said in a lengthy statement Tuesday that suggested the district was blindsided by the video. Officials said Tuesday they had not seen the first video “until a few days ago.”
Adding to that crisis, students at the Garden Grove school have since become the targets of “numerous death threats,” district officials said in the statement. Garden Grove police are investigating the threats and hate speech allegations, officials said.
Garden Grove district officials said Pacifica administrators first learned of the video in March. Pacifica administrators confronted students and their families but failed to “involve the larger school or district community in addressing the issue,” district officials said.
Also in March, students from nearby Newport Beach – about 13 miles south of Garden Grove – were photographed at a party, their arms extended in a Nazi salute, the Los Angeles Times reported. The group posed over a collection of red plastic cups arranged to form a swastika.
“Pacifica High School administration realizes it did not respond to the incident with the gravity it deserved,” district officials said. “We deeply apologize for the pain this has caused our community and the national community at large.”
Osborne at the board meeting also apologized, saying the school’s initial inquiry into the videos and its transparency with Pacifica parents “fell drastically short.”
That answer has not satisfied parents and educators at the Orange County school, angered that they were not told of Pacifica’s probe into the pro-Nazi video months ago.