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Pennekamp Elementary Reports Hate Graffiti; 9th Such Incident in MB in 2022

Sep 20, 2022 03:50PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Pennekamp Elementary was vandalized over the weekend with racist and "inappropriate" graffiti, the school has reported. 

The incident is the latest in what has become a string of hate graffiti - primarily anti-Semitic, although this latest incident appeared to be racist - at Manhattan Beach schools. 

A message to parents from Pennekamp Principal Sharon Witzansky on Monday read as follows:

"On Saturday morning, we were notified that our school was vandalized with offensive and racist graffiti. Hateful language and an inappropriate image were sprayed on a wall above the cafeteria. A report was filed immediately with the Manhattan Beach Police Department, and the graffiti was removed by our Maintenance and Operations team. 

"The video cameras on campus captured surveillance footage of potential suspects who were on school grounds at the same time the vandalism occurred. The District will work with MBPD to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable for their actions.

"I am saddened that this type of event has taken place on our campus, which is a welcoming safe haven for all students and staff. We ask that any member of our community with information come forward and be proactive to help hold those who are responsible accountable for this act of hate.  

"Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Manhattan Beach Police Department's anonymous tip line at (310) 802-5171."

MB News has heard unofficially from multiple sources that the suspects captured on the videotape appeared to be juveniles, as opposed to adults.

Repeated Hate Graffiti Incidents Prompt Calls for Action

Although Manhattan Beach schools have dealt with hate graffiti in previous years, Saturday's incident was the 9th such incident in 2022 alone. 

  • Two anti-Semitic graffiti cases were reported at Mira Costa High School in late January.
  • Two additional anti-Semitic vandalism graffiti incidents at Mira Costa occurred during the week of February 7, when school staff found swastikas drawn in two different locations during their routine checks of the campus.
  • Anti-Semitic graffiti was reported at Mira Costa and at Robinson Elementary on Thursday, February 17.
  • Racist graffiti was discovered at Meadows Elementary on July 20
  • Anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at Mira Costa on September 12
  • Racist graffiti was discovered at Pennekamp over the weekend of September 17-18.
Community members attending the September 14 MBUSD school board meeting expressed outrage over the latest anti-Semitic graffiti incident, calling for more to be done.

The school board approved funding for security camera systems at Manhattan Beach Middle School, Mira Costa, and Robinson Elementary (the three remaining schools needing funding for security cameras). Board members vowed to do more to combat hate, but noted that the effort would need to be community-wide.

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