Police are investigating after authorities found two swastikas in a bathroom at Westfield High School Friday. In a statement Tuesday, police said the swastikas were etched on a bathroom stall wall by a person using “an unknown metal object.”
“At this time, there is no suspect information, and it is an ongoing investigation,” police said in the statement, which put the time of the incident at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Both the board of education president and the school’s principal condemned the act of hatred.
School Board President Amy Root said it is distressing to learn of the swastikas found at the high school, particularly in light of the school district’s work to discuss the impact of racism and antisemitism, including through the schools’ No Place for Hate committees.
“I know that our administrators take this very seriously and are investigating the incident, and I am encouraged that these symbols were reported to the police immediately,” Root said in a statement provided to TAPinto Westfield. “I am very disappointed that there are those in our community who fail to understand the serious impact caused by these hateful symbols. We will continue to look for ways to reinforce the message in our schools and in our community that hate will not be tolerated.”
Westfield High School Principal Mary Asfendis in an email to families said that the symbols were promptly removed. “This act of antisemitism is disturbing as we work each day to bring issues of discrimination, racism and bias to the forefront in order to engage the community in a dialogue to teach our students that hateful words and acts are inexcusable,” Asfendis wrote.
She noted a recent “community conversation on antisemitism” that students at Westfield High School had led last month, and she encouraged such dialogues to continue. The after-school discussion had been hosted by the high school’s No Place For Hate Committee Feb. 23. It included students, staff and community members.
“We need to engage in more of these dialogues, at home and in school, to help others understand the power of that symbol of hate and the pain that it continues to cause our Jewish community,” Asfendis wrote.
“Despite how upsetting it is to find this in our school, it is the act of an individual and does not represent who we are as a community or that we tolerate any acts of hatred, antisemitism or racism at Westfield High School,” she wrote.