GENEVA — Following a lengthy investigation, police said students in the city school district were responsible for racist graffiti and damage to West Street Elementary School last month.
In a brief update Friday, police Chief Mike Passalacqua said school officials will decide if they want to pursue criminal charges against the youths or handle the matter internally. They are not being named due to their ages.
“The Geneva Police Department would like to thank the community members who contacted the police department with information leading to the identity of the juveniles,” he said.
The incident was reported Sunday, May 2. Police found a window and floodlight damaged, and markings carved into the playground behind the school.
One of the markings read “Bring the Nazi’s [sic] back,” while several swastikas were etched along with racial slurs and other indecent images. Video surveillance was used in the case.
School district Superintendent Patricia Garcia said the playground was cleaned up by district facility workers before school the next day.
“We are deeply disappointed that this occurred on our school grounds. This type of vandalism, and especially hate speech, is unacceptable in any setting and it is particularly upsetting in an education setting,” Garcia said by email shortly after the incident. “Geneva city schools have a richly diverse student body — a strength we celebrate openly and often. We do not and will not tolerate hate speech or racism of any kind, and the graffiti left on the West Street School playground is not a reflection of who we are and what we value as a community.”
“West Street School houses our youngest students — pre-k through first grade. No child should be exposed to this type of hatred, and I am extremely grateful to the Geneva Police Department for their quick response and investigation, which allowed us to remove the graffiti so quickly,” Garcia added. “I am also grateful to the district’s facilities workers, who cleaned up the damage and graffiti immediately after police gave us permission to do so.”