ARLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A vandalism investigation is underway after 14 senior students who broke into Arlington High School last week damaged several items and a swastika and anti-gay slurs were found spraypainted outside the building, police said.
Arlington police officers responding to a report of damage and graffiti at the Massachusetts Avenue school at about 5:42 a.m. on May 2 determined that 14 male students, who have not been identified, entered the building overnight.
The investigation revealed that they damaged several fire extinguishers, vending machines, display cases and an emergency defibrillator, police said. They also allegedly spraypainted the inside and outside of the school, with a swastika and anti-gay slurs painted outside of the building.
“I think some of the boys poured syrup on the walls and peanut butter in the nursery,” student Rachel Davin said. “Everything was trashed.”
Naomi Greenfield, of Arlington’s Human Rights Commission, was taken aback when she discovered how obscene one of the messages was.
“In doing this work, I’ve seen a lot of pictures of hate graffiti and read a lot of things, but its totally different to see it,” Greenfield said. “It’s so raw, unboxed and out there and to discover it, I was surprised at how much viscerally it hit me.”
The 14 students now face discipline from Arlington Public Schools. A police investigation is underway.
“These actions represent a terrible breach of the peace and harmony we seek to instill as a welcoming, tolerant, and safe community,” Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said. “Whether these students intended to or not, their words and actions are hateful and hurtful, and we must respond appropriately.”
Students have since come together to replace the offensive graffiti with chalk-drawn messages of love all over the campus.
“It’s not how our senior class should be seen,” senior Bailey David said. “The majority of us are hardworking people who believe in equality for everybody.”
Officials are consulting with the Arlington Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Defamation League, and the newly formed Arlington LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission to determine the best possible response.
In a statement, Police Chief Frederick Ryan said, “This is a serious situation, and it requires a holistic and deliberative approach to find the correct solution that addresses the wrong and repairs the breach to the community.”
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