Reading officials are investigating after two swastikas were found in a classroom and bathroom at the town’s high school this month, according to a statement.
The Nazi symbol was first discovered written in blue permanent marker on a classroom floor on May 4. A second was found three weeks later, on May 21, drawn in pen on a cinder block wall in the bathroom of the field house at Reading Memorial High School.
Officials said they have responded “swiftly and aggressively” to investigate and reach out to the Anti-Defamation League and local clergy to educate the community about hate speech.
“As leaders in the town of Reading, we are committed to ridding our community of hate and hateful speech,” Police Chief Mark Segalla said in a statement jointly issued with town and school officials. “That means we need to come together and have uncomfortable discussions about how we treat each other and what words and symbols really mean.”
The town has worked with the New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and will work with the nonprofit again to educate the community about hate speech, and the need for tolerance. A public forum is planned for the near future, the statement said.
“We cannot simply write these acts off as isolated incidents,” school superintendent John Doherty said. “When we ignore hate it grows . . . As a school district, we accept that we have a responsibility to dig deeper and teach our children about the topics of hate, racism, and fear.”
Town Manager Robert W. LeLacheur Jr. said officials are “ . . . wholly committed to creating an atmosphere of acceptance in Reading.”
“Our community is healthiest and is at its best when everyone living, working, and visiting Reading feels safe, secure, and included,” he said.
Dylan McGuinness can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org