Thursday, August 25, 2016
In the same week Gov. Charlie Baker visited Marblehead and celebrated the Anti-Defamation League's work, town officials found themselves again condemning an anti-Semitic incident.
At the Board of Selectmen's Wednesday night meeting, Marblehead superintendent Maryann Perry and police Chief Robert Picariello said that vandals allegedly spelled in the dirt of a Marblehead High School softball field: "Jews did 9/11" in large letters the evening of Aug. 18, Wicked Local reported.
The incident occurred the same night MHS principal Daniel Bauer's office window was shattered with a rock, according to Picariello, Wicked Local reported.
He said the throwing of a rock into the principal's window was troubling enough, but the hate crime was disgusting.
"It was immediately erased, and we thought it was important that we shine a light on it," said Picariello, who also sits on the Marblehead Task Force Against Discrimination.
Picariello added an investigation was either in process or already conducted, which included the collection of video. No one has been arrested and charged, and Picariello said the public should not be quick to pin the act of hate on students -- several people pass through the back of MHS, he said.
"I as superintendent don't tolerate this behavior inside my school walls," said Perry. "Inside our walls, it's a safe place."
Perry pointed out members of the district's central administration and the School Committee seated behind her underscored Marblehead Public Schools doesn't take hateful acts "lightly." Several members of the Marblehead Task Force Against Discrimination could bee seen at the board's meeting Wednesday.
"It's happening everywhere, it's happening worldwide," Hazlett, co-chairman of the task force, told selectmen.
Outrage, unacceptable and disheartening were among choice words selectmen used upon hearing about the incident.
Selectman Jackie Belf-Becker said, "One only has to turn on the TV" to find what's fueling the hate.
And she added, "It's not just a school issue, it's a community issue."
In Marblehead, swastikas have been found spray painted in public places, including on a basketball court. Moreover, two MHS students spoke up within the past year when they stumbled upon a peer's posting of a swastika constructed out of pennies. According to an ADL report published in 2016, the incidents are apart of an alarming increase in anti-Semitic acts perpetrated around New England on Jewish individuals, property, places of worship, social media and schools.
"We remain extremely concerned by the surge in anti-Semitic incidents this year, especially in schools," said ADL New England executive director Robert Trestan.
The hateful acts at MHS revived the school's participation in the ADL's anti-bias training program, "World of Difference," in the upcoming 2016-17 academic year.
The ADL applauded once again the Marblehead Police Department, Task Force Against Discrimination and school district for "addressing this incident with the seriousness and speed we have come to expect from them."
"This shameful act of hate goes beyond simply offensive," said Trestan. "This type of attack warrants condemnation by the entire community."
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