Antisemitic graffiti was found Wednesday scrawled on the desk of a Magruder High School student. The incident comes amid a recent spike in antisemitic acts across Montgomery County.
Magruder Principal Leroy Evans described the graffiti as a “very serious racially insensitive incident” in a message sent to families on Wednesday. School officials are in the early stages of investigation and plan to conduct interviews with students who may have more information, he wrote.
“Given the seriousness of this incident and heightened concerns around racial insensitivity and antisemitism, we seek parent support and involvement in speaking with your children in our efforts to eliminate this hateful and harmful behavior,” his message read.
The incident at Magruder is only the latest in a recent countywide onslaught of antisemitic acts, including graffiti, flyers and anonymous emails.
Most recently, antisemitic flyers were discovered Sunday morning on the porches of over a dozen Kensington residents. Police and the Anti-Defamation League are investigating, and the ADL has said it believes a hate group called the Goyim Defense League is responsible.
Last week, swastikas were found drawn on desks at Thomas S. Wootton High School and Tilden Middle School in Rockville, as well as at Silver Creek Middle School in Kensington. Culpable students have since been disciplined, according to the district.
In December, the entrance sign to Walt Whitman High School was found defaced with antisemitic graffiti, prompting hundreds of students and staff to participate in a school walkout showing solidarity with the Jewish community and demanding better Holocaust education in schools.
Similar student walkouts were held on Monday at Winston Churchill High School and McLean School, and three more are planned at Poolesville, Quince Orchard and Montgomery Blair high schools on Jan. 30.
County Council President Evan Glass (D-At-Large) and Councilmember Kate Stewart (D-Dist. 4) have both publicly expressed their concern and stated that they will be working with MCPS to enhance education on antisemitism. The county executive, County Council and Montgomery County Public Schools have each released statements expressing concern about the influx of hate.
“Our nation continues to experience a deeply troubling rise in antisemitism, and we must continue to join together to denounce these acts of hate here at home,” the County Council’s statement read.
A $5,000 reward is being offered by two Washington, D.C.-based Jewish nonprofits for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the parties responsible for the antisemitic graffiti found at Whitman, as well as the graffiti found earlier this year at Bethesda Trolley Trail.
Ron Halber, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, and Gil Preuss, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, jointly announced the reward on Monday. It expires July 21, 2023.
Anyone with information about the antisemitic graffiti or flyers can report it to Montgomery County Police at 866-411-TIPS (8477).