Swastikas found at Staples High School
WESTPORT — Swastikas and Stars of David with expletives near them were found in several locations at Staples High School on Thursday.
In an evening email to parents, Interim Superintendent David Abbey said a swastika was originally found carved onto a stall door in a bathroom at the high school.
“Upon further examination, additional swastikas were discovered in other Staples locations,” Abbey wrote in the email. “In one location several Stars of David were found next to an expletive.”
An extra night crew worked on Thursday to ensure the obscenities were removed by the time school started on Friday.
“We take these acts seriously are actively partnering with the Westport Police Department as we move forward with our investigation,” Abbey said. “In the days ahead we will do everything we can to deter these acts, throughout our district and through our daily efforts, work to create a climate where all are welcomed and valued.”
This has not been the first occurrence in the past week of this type of vandalism in a Connecticut school. Anti-Semitic graffiti was also reportedly found in two bathrooms at Hamden High School on Wednesday. It was not the first incident of this type reported there this year. In March, school officials investigated after a swastika was found drawn on a Hamden High School student’s assignment.
Hamden and Westport are not the only communities to grapple with such acts in recent years. People in other Connecticut communities have been struck by similar acts of hatred and intolerance.
Earlier this year, Bridgeport Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said he was “deeply disturbed and outraged” after a swastika was found painted on the doors of St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport on Jan. 4. And just last month, an individual defaced the Adath Israel Synagogue with anti-Semitic graffiti, according to Newtown police.
In a statement, Adath Israel Synagogue said it will continue to fight against these types of actions.
The Anti-Defamation League reported there were 39 anti-Semitic incidents in Connecticut in 2018, down from 49 in 2017, up from 36 in 2016.
State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-28, condmened the acts in a statement on Friday.
“When someone becomes the target of a crime because of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disabilitiy, the very fabric and soul of our community is torn,” Hwang said.
He added he was proud to shepherd a bipartisan passage of House Bill 5743 in the 2017 General Assembly session. The act created one of the nation’s strongest hate crime laws, he said.
“The only way to combat this sort of racism and hate is education, compassion and zero tolerance,” Hwang said. “When the specter of hate rears its ugly head in our communities, all of us will rise up against it. Intolerance and actions of hate can never be tolerated or ignored.”
From New Haven to Greenwich along the coast and in several Danbury-area towns, public buildings are often the favored targets of these vandals, especially school buildings.
However, some communities have seen anti-Semitic graffiti pop up in numerous places over the years. In Ridgefield, for example, a teacher at the high school found a swastika and another piece of race-biased graffiti on an outside area of the school’s campus in April 2017. Less than a year later, in January 2018, swastikas were found scrawled in green marker at the Aldrich Museum. More were found drawn in green marker on the sign at the Masonic Lodge.
And that June, police said three swastikas were found carved into a picnic table at Ballard Green, a housing complex for the elderly and disabled operated by the Ridgefield Housing Authority.
In 2016, New Haven police investigated sexually vulgar and anti-Semitic graffiti on a police substation, and outside an immigration office and a restaurant that serves multicultural food.