Burlingame High School target of hate-motivated vandalism

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Burlingame High School target of hate-motivated vandalism

School Plant Operator Employee Victor Delaplaine removes the swastika from a banner.

School Plant Operator Employee Victor Delaplaine removes the swastika from a banner.

The Burlingame B

School Plant Operator Employee Victor Delaplaine removes the swastika from a banner.

The Burlingame B

The Burlingame B

School Plant Operator Employee Victor Delaplaine removes the swastika from a banner.

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Facilities Engineer George Reyes arrived at school Thursday, Sept. 5 at 6 a.m. to discover vandalism containing anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist messages on the walls of several buildings. Reyes immediately notified the administration and local police. When the maintenance crew arrived at around 7 a.m., Police Officer Liaison Steve Vega and Principal Paul Belzer were already at the school.

There were an estimated ten to fifteen distinct sites of vandalism across campus, which maintenance workers described as a “severe” case. When students arrived at school before first period, they reported seeing anti-Semitic and bigoted symbols and phrases on the walls, such as swastikas, anarchist symbols and racial slurs.

The vandalism was first covered up by black posters to “keep student experience as normal as possible,” according to Principal Belzer. District procedure mandates that all district painters report to a school in the case of vandalism, giving the normal morning maintenance staff an additional three painters to help cover the graffiti. The vandalism was painted over and the posters were removed by the beginning of brunch at 9:21 a.m. A second coat was added to ensure that no remnants of the graffiti were visible.

The school is currently working with the Burlingame Police Department to identify the responsible individual(s). A “substantial reward” is being offered for any information regarding the incident and who may be responsible for this, according to a public announcement made by Belzer this morning.

A public forum held at lunch allowed students to voice their concerns and feelings about the hate-motivated incident. The school counselors were available all day for students to drop by if extra support was needed, and Principal Belzer has met with various groups of concerned students.
“The district has considered more significant surveillance cameras … We prioritize making our schools safe and try to have a lens of equity for all students to make sure all of our students feel safe,” Belzer said.

While there is no concrete plan on how to move forward from this situation, the district is considering many options. The administration says that there will be more solid news in the coming days.

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  • Black poster paper was used to cover the graffitti until maintenance workers could paint over it.

  • BHS staff worked hard to make sure the hateful graffiti was covered up before most students showed up to school.

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