Recent graffiti incidents raise concerns at school

The Davis Police Department removed the racist graffiti located on the walls of Davis High’s L-wing boys bathroom. (Photo: C. Stevens)

By Elissa Koh, Editor-in-Chief–

Graffiti with anti-Semitic and racist messages were found in Davis High’s L-wing boys bathroom in two separate incidents in the last week and a half.

Tuesday, Oct. 24

Principal Tom McHale sent out an email to the parents and guardians of DHS students, informing them about “disturbing events that have occurred within our school community over the last few days.”

Over the weekend, a swastika, along with the anti-Semitic slogan “Sieg Heil,” had been drawn on the wall of the bathroom.

Three anonymous messages, containing an image of a swastika, had been sent digitally to DHS through STOPit, an anonymous app for reporting bullying. Harper Junior High also received anonymous messages with a swastika image through STOPit. All of these messages had been sent within two minutes of each other.

The graffiti was cleared from the bathroom walls immediately and the incident was reported to the Davis Police Department for investigation.

“I want to also take this opportunity to underscore that such actions are taken seriously and run counter to DJUSD policies and principles of inclusion and may be considered hate crimes by law,” McHale said. “In our school community there is no room for intolerance. I ask for your support in helping to reinforce this message.”

Tuesday, Oct. 31

Racist graffiti containing the N-word was found in the L-wing DHS boys bathroom Tuesday morning. The incident was once again reported to the police, who came to the high school campus to remove the hate graffiti.

Wednesday, Nov. 1

McHale sent out another message to families of DHS students notifying them of an assembly to take place tomorrow concerning the “series of disturbing incidents occurring on our campus in recent days, specifically anti-Semitic symbols and hate speech targeting African Americans.”

“I will be meeting with students in groups tomorrow to share information, reinforce values and begin a discussion on what impact these events have had on students and our school community. The acts of hate speech and imagery that have targeted individuals by race, religion and more on our school campus are reprehensible and we will use time tomorrow to discuss the incidents and to remind students that we all have a responsibility to respect and protect others,” McHale said.

According to McHale, the school will continue to work with the Davis police and hold its own internal investigations in search of those responsible for the graffiti incidents. Additionally, counseling services are available to any student or staff member that feels vulnerable.

“At [DHS], we believe in inclusiveness, peaceful interaction and respect for all students and staff who make up our diverse campus,” McHale said.

Furthermore, in order to ensure that hate incidents like these do not occur again, Davis Joint Unified School District public information officer, Maria Clayton, says additional preventative measures are being taken.

“We are coordinating educational resources that will be used to reinforce this learning in the classroom and to continue the conversation into the future,” Clayton said. “We take the recent acts of hate speech and imagery (both from yesterday and those instances from this past weekend) very seriously and they are not tolerated in our schools or school community.”

At the School Board meeting on Thursday, Superintendent John Bowes will address the recent graffiti incidents and the next steps that will be taken in response to them.

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