The mirrors in a boys’ bathroom vandalized with swastikas and obscene language at Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior High School in Davis were discovered Monday afternoon, two days after a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people.
Jean Kennedy, the principal of the school, referred to the vandalism in an email sent out to all Holmes Junior High parents as “acts of hate” that “have no place in our school community.”
Davis police were notified and the vandalism was removed, Kennedy said, adding that campus bathrooms would be closely monitored and those near the library will be closed during lunch periods.
Lt. Paul Doroshov with the Davis Police Department said the swastikas, which were drawn in orange crayon, are being investigated as a hate incident.
FBI data and analysis by the Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic incidents were on the rise nationwide even before the shooting. “The Anti-Defamation League identified 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2017, up from 1,267 in 2016, and also reported a major increase in anti-Semitic online harassment,” the Associated Press reported Monday.
Mirroring the national trend, hate crimes in Sacramento County increased by 66 percent since 2014, according to a state Department of Justice report in July.
Maria Clayton, a spokeswoman for the school district, said that although events like this are infrequent, the district always takes them seriously and involves law enforcement.
The most recent hate incident in the district was earlier this year in May when a Da Vinci High School student threatened a school shooting. Before that, Davis Senior High School was similarly vandalized with a swastika in a boys’ bathroom in October 2017.
Clayton said that the vandalism would be abhorrent under any circumstances, but its proximity to Saturday’s shooting meant the community was vulnerable, and a strong response was necessary.
“We are really trying to make sure the community knows there is support for students, for all students,” Clayton said, emphasizing the importance of school counselors for students.
John A. Bowes, superintendent for the Davis Joint Unified School District, echoed her sentiments, writing in a statement sent to all district parents that the shooting in Pittsburgh hit close to home for many in the community.
“Our counselors are available at every school to support students or others who may be struggling with pain or questions and I encourage anyone in our community to reach out for material or emotional support,” Bowes said.