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Anti-Semitic Graffiti Appears Again at Mira Costa

Sep 13, 2022 09:10PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

(Stock photo; not the actual graffiti wall)

Update # 1: The MBUSD school board approved the security cameras at its meeting on Wednesday night. See the follow-up story for full details.

Update #2: Additional graffiti with racist hate messages was discovered at Pennekamp Elementary over the September 17-18 weekend. This marks the 9th episode of hate graffiti at Manhattan Beach schools in 2022. 

Mira Costa High School has once again been the target of anti-Semitic graffiti, prompting new outrage and calls for further action.

As discovered on Monday morning, Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti had been spray painted on multiple parts of the campus. Staff members have since cleaned and painted the vandalized areas. 

Nevertheless, school officials condemned the acts and vowed to address the situation, with MBUSD Superintendent John Bowes calling the incident "senseless and despicable."

At Wednesday night's school board meeting, the board is expected to approve camera installations and connections to a recording and monitoring system for Mira Costa and Manhattan Beach Middle School. 

"This is definitely not tolerated and we are looking to find out who is doing it," Mira Costa Principal Karina Gerger told Mira Costa's Jewish Cultural Club members on Tuesday.

Anti-Semitic Incidents Continue at Mira Costa

While Mira Costa has been the target of hate graffiti in the past, there has been an upswing in such episodes in 2022. This incident is the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents that have roiled the campus in recent months.

Two anti-Semitic graffiti cases were reported at Mira Costa in late January 2022. Two additional anti-Semitic vandalism graffiti incidents at Mira Costa occurred during the week of February 7.

The discovery of a fifth occurrence of anti-Semitic graffiti at Mira Costa on February 17 - and the additional discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti at Robinson Elementary - added to the concern and outrage, leading the city, community leaders, and the police to resolve swift action on the issue.

In early March, then-Mayor Hildy Stern and then-Police Chief Derrick Abell made an unusual joint appearance before Mira Costa's Jewish Cultural Club to assure students that the city stood in solidarity with them. 

Superintendent's Message

On Monday, after the discovery of the latest graffiti, Superintendent John Bowes sent out the following message to members of the community:

Dear MBUSD Community, 

We are reaching out to inform you of a senseless and despicable vandalism incident that was discovered this morning by the Mira Costa staff. Nazi swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were spray painted on multiple parts of the campus. We are deeply troubled, once again, by this criminal act against our high school. 

Our staff has already cleaned and painted the vandalized areas. The safety and well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority. We immediately involved the Manhattan Beach Police Department (MBPD) who began their investigation and an FBI report has been made. We take such acts of hate very seriously and will work with local law enforcement partners to take appropriate actions against the perpetrators. We continue to communicate and partner with local religious leaders throughout the community to address these hateful acts. 

At MBUSD, we do not tolerate this kind of behavior or any form of discrimination, which goes against everything we stand for. We take pride in our schools as welcoming, safe, and inclusive places. We need your help to stop these incidents from happening. We recognize that students play a vital role in maintaining a safe school; please remind them if they hear rumors, hear something, or see something to report it to a school administrator. 

Moving forward, we are taking steps to enhance school safety and security by installing security cameras around our campuses at Mira Costa, MBMS, and Robinson Elementary. At our Board of Trustees meeting this Wednesday, September 14, we will be asking the Board to approve new camera systems that will support camera installation and connection to a recording and monitoring system. 

If you have any information on this incident, please call the MBPD’s anonymous tip line at (310) 802-5171.

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