• Swastikas, threats for 'white people' found at Reading school, police say

    By: Maria Papadopoulos

    Updated:

    READING, Mass. - School administrators and town officials are grappling with six threatening and hateful graffiti incidents at Reading Memorial High School over the past three weeks. 

    Two more incidents were reported Wednesday in separate bathrooms at the high school, according to a joint statement from police, school administrators and town officials on Thursday afternoon.

    "The first incident was two additional swastikas and the second incident was some threatening remarks impacting 'white people,'" the statement said. "Both incidents are under investigation by our High School Administration and the Reading Police Department. Both incidents are unacceptable and are not welcome in our community." 

     Swasktikas found in Reading Memorial High School classroom

         The incidents have targeted the town's Jewish and LGBTQ communities and students of color, according to police. Last month, two swastikas were found in a high school classroom.

    The community has held a candlelight vigil to address the hateful graffiti. Students and staff have also had conversations about the incidents and the district has boosted staff presence in school hallways and public areas, according to Reading Schools Superintendent John Doherty. 

    "We have continued to educate students during class of what these hateful symbols mean and how we can be “upstanders” and call out those that are committing these hateful acts," the statement said. 

    Investigators are reviewing surveillance video and interviewing potential witnesses to help catch the perpetrator or perpetrators.

    Police have no suspects at this time.

    The community plans to increase communications with students, staff and residents to address the issue through the school district newsletter, press releases and social media.

    "The incidents continue to occur and with increased frequency," the statement said. "After each incident, our frustration and the frustration of this community grows. "

    The intent of increased communication "is to continue to internally address the issues and also to keep the community informed," the statement said. "It is our hope that this shift will reduce and eliminate these acts of hate."

    Anyone with information on the incidents is asked to call police at 781-944-1212.

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