ALAMEDA — Two high schools in Alameda scrambled to investigate graffiti threatening violence against students and Muslims just days after thousands of students rallied against gun violence in schools.
The first instance of graffiti was discovered early Friday morning at Alameda High School. Graffiti found in a bathroom threatened violence against Muslim students on Tuesday, March 20. The principal of AHS alerted parents, reached out to the Muslim Student Union and circulated a photo of the graffiti to teachers to see if any recognized the handwriting.
The Alameda Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
At noon, graffiti found in the bathroom at Island High School prompted a shelter-in-place for the school and students at Woodstock Child Development Center. The threat was determined to not be credible and the shelter-in-place was lifted. The police and school staff are also investigating this incident, including analysis of the handwriting.
Two other Bay Area Schools – Burlingame Intermediate School and Martinez Junior High – schools cancelled classes on Friday after threats were discovered on campus. In both of these cases, the threats were written in school bathrooms. Threats have so far been reported in Berkeley, Lafayette, Milpitas, San Leandro, Morgan Hill, San Jose and Union City.
On Wednesday, thousands of AUSD students walked out of class at 10 a.m. in protest against gun violence in schools. The protest was part of a National Walkout Day organized in response to the 17 students and staff that were killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
In a powerfully-written letter to the community, AUSD Superintendent Sean McPhetridge denounced the threats to students written in the bathrooms of Alameda High School and Island High School on Friday.
“Today, a few individuals posted disturbing and violent graffiti, frightened their peers, disrupted classes, and distracted staff from being able to support schools and students in other meaningful and valuable ways. That is not powerful. It is not inspiring. Nor is it unusual at this point,” McPhetridge wrote.
McPhetridge pledged to implement anti-bias and anti-bullying programs and to assess the mental health and behavioral needs of students.
“Without question, something in our society is changing and providing fertile ground for these threats. What gives me hope in these times is the strength, passion, resilience, and optimism of the young people on our campuses. What gives me confidence is the expertise, capacity, and determination of our staff and our APD partners to respond to threats skillfully when they occur,” he continued.
Read the full letter here: