Author(s):Megan Tench, Globe
Staff Date: October 9, 2002
South Boston High School officials are sending a letter home this week to reassure parents after a string of racist slurs and symbols, including "KKK," were found spray-painted on school walls.
Students arrived at school Friday and discovered the graffiti, which officials removed within hours. "We just want to let people know that the school community and the community of South Boston shouldn't be condemned as a place of hatred or should be feared because of the actions of a handful," said Thomas Pilleri, South Boston High's chief adminstrative officer. He also plans to meet with the Dorchester Heights Association, a group of residents.
Boston police are investigating the incident, including a tip that six individuals were spotted spray-painting at the school, Pilleri said.
Some concerned students also alerted members of the Boston chapter of the New Black Panther Party, which wants police and school officials to take extra precautions to ensure student safety.
"I am concerned because obviously there are forces out here in the neighborhood where people don't like black children," said Jamarhl Crawford, party chairman.
Pilleri said school officials have reassured some students who were offended by the graffiti that police were investigating the incident and urged them to stay calm. "I asked them, `Who are you going to retaliate against? We still have no idea who did this,' " Pilleri said.
Two years ago, racist graffiti, including a swastika, was found scrawled on the back of a building at South Boston High School. Police never arrested anyone.
Crawford hopes this time will be different.
"This is not an isolated incident; it has happened before," he said. "Right now we don't know who these people are, and the police really need to take this matter seriously, not just paint over it."
Officials from the Anti-Defamation League of New England also hope the vandals are caught this time.
"This is an outrage that runs contrary to everything we try to instill in young people," said Rob Leikind.