NEW ROCHELLE, NY — In what has become a worrisome trend in New Rochelle, there has been another anti-Semitic incident in a public school. A Swastika and profanity was found Tuesday painted on a paved area in the back of Albert Leonard Middle School. School officials called police.
The incident marks the twentieth Swastika reported to New Rochelle Police since November 2018, including four last month, at three public schools: New Rochelle High School, Albert Leonard Middle School and Isaac E. Young Middle School.
New Rochelle Police were called to Albert Leonard Middle School at noon on Tuesday.
Police and School descriptions of the incident differ. The School said “Anti-Semitic language” was “written” on the blacktop behind the school; the Police said “a Swastika”, and “a profanity”, was “painted” on the blacktop.
“On December 10 at 12 pm, NRPD responded to ALMS on a report of criminal mischief,” said New Rochelle Police Captain Cosmo Costa. “The Principal was interviewed, who stated that at 11 am a Security Guard advised him that a swastika, along with a profanity, were painted on the basketball court blacktop with white paint.”
Asked why the incident is listed as “criminal mischief” and “making graffiti” in police records, Costa said several elements are needed for the incident to be classified as a hate crime.
“All specified in NYS Penal Law 485.05.” explained Costa. “First you have to have a specific offense and then intentionally selecting the victim, or committing the offense, based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct.
Albert Leonard Principal John Barnes sent an email to parents at 2:20 p.m. to inform the school community that an “act of hate was discovered today toward the back of our school blacktop.”
“During our 8th grade lunch, a student upstander brought something written on the blacktop to the attention of one of our security monitors,” wrote Barnes. “The school notified our local authorities of the Anti-Semitic language discovered, and filed a police report.”
8th grade lunch is 11:03 a.m. to 11:51 a.m.
“We are working with our local authorities and district officials to investigate this horrific and disturbing act.”
“We work to promote an inclusive, accepting environment for all of our school constituents and will not tolerate any incidents that spread hate, injustice, or an unsafe learning environment,” said Barnes.
The school asked parents to contact school officials if they or their children were aware of any specifics and had any information.
In response to an exclusive report of four Swastikas found past month at New Rochelle High School published by Talk of the Sound later the same day as the Albert Leonard MS incident, December 10th, the District issued a statement from Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo.
“We recognize this type of graffiti as an act of hate,” said Feijóo. “We will identify those responsible so that they may face appropriate consequences, and to address underlying social and emotional issues that would cause a child to act out in this fashion.”