January 19, 2020

Swastikas Found at Bay Area High School

Photo from Wikipedia.

Several instances of anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic graffiti were found at a high school in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sept. 5.

The approximate dozen instances of graffiti spanned across multiple buildings throughout Burlingame High School, according to the Burlingame B school newspaper. The Burlingame B described the graffiti as featuring “swastikas, anarchist symbols and racial slurs.

Principal Paul Belzer wrote in an email to parents that he was “outraged” at the vandalism and the school discussed the matter during a forum later in the day, according to the Jewish News of Northern California.

I feel our students and school, and our school’s values of integrity and community have been attacked,” Belzer wrote.

Police are investigating the vandalism; Anti-Defamation League Central Pacific Region Associate Director Vlad Khaykin told the Journal in a phone interview that the ADL is working with law enforcement and the school on the matter.

The Sept. 5 graffiti at Burlingame High School occurred during a string of similar anti-Semitic graffiti occurring around the country; several swastikas were found spray-painted on at least nine homes in San Pedro over Labor Day weekend. Additionally, swastika graffiti was also found at a University of Nevada Reno residence hall on Aug. 23 and at Needham High School in Boston on Sept. 4.

Khaykin told the Journal that the recent incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti are illustrative of an increase in white nationalist activity worldwide.

“We’re seeing increasingly that white nationalist organizations are working together, collaborating, taking inspiration from one another, sharing ‘best practices’ if you can call them that, and really egging one another on, encouraging one another,” Khaykin said. “We’ve seen with the attacks in Christchurch that white nationalism has become a global threat, and part of the reason why that’s the case is because of the new technologies that have allowed these people to connect with one another across borders, across oceans, and to coordinate their activities in real time to stream their propaganda efforts in real time.”

He added that when acts of vandalism occur like the Sept. 5 graffiti in Burlingame High, community leaders need to speak out against it.

“Schools should be no place for hate, they should be a place where students go for a safe and nurturing environment,” Khaykin said. “Students should be challenged by their school assignments, not by the nature of their identity.”