Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Antisemitic Graffiti Found on Middle School Campus in Illinois

When students and staff arrived at Haven Middle School Monday morning, Dec. 11, they found a message in graffiti on the building.

“F— Israel. Free Palestine,” it said.

The school district’s maintenance staff immediately removed the graffiti Monday, Haven Principal Chris Latting said in a letter to families. The Evanston Police Department launched an investigation into the incident, and, according to the city crime bulletin published Wednesday, officers are looking at a time frame of between 3:30 p.m. Friday and 10:45 p.m. Sunday for when the offender or offenders may have vandalized school property.

“The initial cameras [at Haven] did not pick up anything in the incident, but with any investigation of this nature, we will be looking for additional cameras or private cameras in the area that might have captured the incident itself or people coming and going to that area in that time frame,” EPD Cmdr. Ryan Glew said Wednesday.

Police don’t yet know the number of people involved, according to Glew. Any offender or offenders will likely be charged with criminal damage to property, but a potential hate crime charge depends on their intent, age, mental capacity and a number of other factors, he said. If a middle school student is responsible, for example, District 65 will have more of a role to play in handing out its own disciplinary action.

In his letter, Latting called finding the people who painted the graffiti a “priority,” and he wrote that “incidents like these … will not be tolerated.”

“We consider the nature of the message to be antisemitic and deeply harmful to our Jewish community,” he said in the letter. “As a school and district community, we strongly condemn any instances of hate and take any matters of vandalism with the utmost seriousness.”

According to Latting and interim Superintendent Angel Turner, Haven teachers and the social emotional learning team are hosting “restorative circles” with all students at the middle school this week. In her own message to the District 65 community posted online Wednesday and titled “Our Commitment to Safe and Inclusive Schools,” Turner described the graffiti as a “blatant display of hate.”

In January, all district staff will participate in “learning opportunities” and trainings on how to facilitate dialogue on Israel and Palestine with students and colleagues, according to Turner. Curriculum and instruction staff are also “working on more explicit lessons to support deeper learning” on antisemitism and Islamophobia, she wrote.

“I can assure you that hate has no home at Haven Middle School,” Latting wrote to families on Monday. “We will not allow this type of harm to happen in our community without repercussion and repair.”

Source: https://evanstonroundtable.com/2023/12/13/police-investigate-antisemitic-graffiti-found-at-haven-middle-school/