Three swastikas were found in a middle school in Pelham, NY, prompting the school administration to call in the police and educate the student body on the significance of the symbol.
Two of the swastikas were found in a boys bathroom in Pelham Middle School this week, a student paper reported. Last Friday, a Pelham Police officer reported to the school after a sixth grader discovered a swastika scrawled on a locker.
A police blotter on the incident noted that the students switch lockers each day and the school’s principal, Lynn Sabia, believed that the swastika was not a “targeted attack towards anyone in particular.”
Sabia convened an assembly for all the grades on Wednesday, where she told students the school filed two police reports and if the student responsible was caught, the individual would face a five-day suspension and a referral to the superintendent. Sabia and Assistant Principal Sean Llewellyn also spoke of the meaning and history of the swastika as a symbol of hate.
In a statement, Congressman Eliot L. Engel, who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester, condemned the “appearance of this despicable symbol” and commended Sabia for her response.
“Children in school should never be subjected to hate, racism, or intolerance of any kind,” Engel said, adding that he was “appalled” that President Trump “regularly extols intolerance and anti-Semitism.”
Jews are regular targets of acts of anti-Semitic vandalism, and the swastika is particularly popular symbol because it is simple and widely recognized. In New York City, of which Pelham is a suburb, reports of hate crimes in 2019 nearly doubled from last year, the majority of them being anti-Semitic in nature.
In September, a swastika and hate speech graffiti were discovered at Scarsdale High School, also in Westchester County. Governor Andrew Cuomo responded by having the state police’s Hate Crime Task Force assist school administrators in the investigation, LoHud.com reported.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.