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Arlington police open probe into racist text messages

Arlington police are investigating a report of racist text messages that a 12-year-old student at Ottoson Middle School allegedly directed to another child who attends the school, the latest in a series of similar incidents that have surfaced in the Boston suburb in recent months.

Police Chief Frederick Ryan said Monday night in a phone interview that the messages were reported to his department earlier in the day. A 12-year-old girl who attends Ottoson allegedly sent them to another student.

Ryan said a detective was assigned to the case, and his department is contacting families of all students involved in the incident. The messages contained “multiple racial epithets,” Ryan said, including a series of texts obtained by the Globe. Those texts appeared to be directed at a student of Indian descent and included derogatory references to his heritage.


A woman who forwarded the messages to The Boston Globe said the perpetrator sent the texts to her son last week, with the intent that her son relay the messages to another boy whose family is from India. She said her son is a friend of the child of Indian descent.

Ryan said the woman forwarded the messages to a man who then contacted police on Monday. Ryan said he could not confirm that the man was the targeted boy’s father.

John M. Guilfoil, a spokesman for the Arlington Public Schools, said only that school officials were aware of the incident and are conducting an “administrative investigation.”

Arlington has seen prior incidents of prejudice in recent months.

In a March 17 letter to parents, Ottoson’s principal, Timothy Ruggere, said racist and anti-Semitic graffiti had been found in two bathrooms at the school. Officials said at the time that all students were informed of “community standards of acceptable behavior,” and that administrators also contacted the town’s Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Defamation League.


Also in March, an 84-year-old Arlington woman received a copy of a Ku Klux Klan badge in the mail after she published a letter in the Globe criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s initial reluctance to disavow a former Klan leader.

Bella English of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.