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Hate Symbol Found in Bathroom At Mira Costa

Feb 03, 2023 10:15AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

(Stock photo; not the actual graffiti wall)

A swastika drawn in marker was found on Thursday morning in a Mira Costa High School bathroom.

Maintenance staff removed the graffiti, and the incident has been reported to the Manhattan Beach Police Department, according to the school.

However, the incident is yet another in a string of antisemitic graffiti and hate messages found at Mira Costa High School and other Manhattan Beach schools. In 2022, the Manhattan Beach Police Department tallied 10 separate hate crimes, including nine reported incidents of hate graffiti in Manhattan Beach schools.

Although the MBUSD school board approved funding for security cameras in September 2022, the camera installation is not yet complete. Nevertheless, even if the cameras had been installed, they would not be in the bathrooms. According to district policy, cameras will not be installed in "areas where students, staff, or community members have a reasonable expectation of privacy."

The district will provide an update to the community once the new camera surveillance installation projects are complete, a district spokesperson told MB News on Thursday.

Leaders Respond to Incident

Mira Costa Principal Karina Gerger sent a message to parents and students on Thursday informing them of the hate symbol. 

"This anti-Semitic graffiti is an unfortunate reminder that these hateful incidents are still happening on our campus. We condemn hurtful acts and want to be clear that this type of hatred, bigotry, and discriminatory behavior has no place on our campus and community," Gerger wrote.

"We must come together to stand against hate," Gerger continued. "This act is unacceptable and does not reflect the value of our Mira Costa community. The hurt that this causes the Jewish community is profound and, in turn, impacts all of us."

The incident also came up on Thursday afternoon in a discussion at "Unity in the Community," an event sponsored by the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce's Inclusion Committee, along with the South Bay Community Coalition Against Hate and The event provided a forum to discuss diversity and tolerance.

(The South Bay Community Coalition of Leaders Against Hate was formed, in part, in response to the ongoing instances of hate graffiti at Manhattan Beach schools.)

Rabbi Yossi Mintz, executive director of the Jewish Community Center and a coalition member, said at the event that he preferred to call an incident like this one "ignorance" rather than a "hate crime."

"When someone does something like this, I believe he’s crying out for help," he said. "We have to address the individual, we have to work with them to understand that we’re all the same. We’re all created in the same image."

Surveillance Cameras Will Not Cover Bathrooms

When the security camera installation is complete, the cameras will be used to monitor buildings and exterior campus areas, as per Board Policy 3515

Those areas include parking lots, perimeters, walkways, stairwells, entrance and exit doors, interior hallways, large open interior spaces, cafeterias, picnic areas, foyers, lobbies, gymnasiums, school buses, athletic fields, stadiums, and any other areas deemed appropriate.

Concealed or non-working cameras will not be used on school grounds, and sounds will not be recorded. 

Once the system is installed, there will be signs posted around the school informing anyone on campus that video surveillance equipment is in use. The school district will also provide written notice to the students, parents, and guardians that the cameras are in operation. 

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