DANVERS – “Racist, homophobic and antisemitic graffiti” was found in a Holten Richmond Middle School student bathroom earlier this week, school and town officials told the school community in a letter on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
“A student or students wrote homophobic and racist statements, along with two swastika symbols,” the letter said. “The police and school administration continue their investigation and will be following our student handbook for appropriate student discipline and legal action, as well as counseling/therapeutic support for the individual(s) responsible.”
The statement adds: “This hate crime and type of behavior has no place in our Danvers Schools or any place in our community. It will not be tolerated. We are incredibly disappointed that this type of behavior has occurred in our school and understand the frustration of the community,” read the statement by School Committee Chair Eric Crane, Human Rights and Inclusion Committee Chair Dutrochet Djoko, Superintendent Lisa Dana and Town Manager Steve Bartha.
Crane told The Salem News the graffiti was found after school on Monday and reported to the administration on Tuesday.
The statement said the district’s curriculum center and middle school team are working on a plan to process the event with the entire school that afternoon, with this work continuing “throughout the remainder of the year.” The administration said it would put curricula and activities in place to help educate students, including working with outside organizations.
The incident follows a detailed report in the Boston Globe this past weekend on allegations from a Danvers High varsity hockey player of racist, homophobic and violent misconduct in the locker room during the 2019-2020 season, something that the newspaper said has been kept secret for more than a year and a half.
The Globe also reported on a transcript of a group text among many on the team that included racist images and remarks, and a joke related to the murder of Jews in the Holocaust.
In the town’s statement on the middle-school graffiti, officials said: “We are acutely aware that this most recent incident fits into a broader pattern – both within our schools and in the broader community – that includes allegations of racial profiling at a local business, an apparent noose left outside a local church, an investigation into racist and homophobic behavior last year by student athletes, a Confederate flag flown in our downtown as part of a political rally, and a swastika discovered in the woods behind the middle school,” the statement read. “We want to be crystal clear in our condemnation of these acts, and allegations.”
By coincidence, the discovery of the graffiti in the Danvers middle school happens to coincide with the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms that preceded the Nazi genocide of the Holocaust.