Three teens in Bethesda, Maryland have been arrested in connection with multiple incidents of hate speech graffiti at a local high school. Police said the teens were responsible for “racially-themed vandalisms” depicting racist slurs and symbols. Now, the three boys face charges related to destruction of property and conspiracy.
The two incidents occurred on March 1 and June 13 this year at Walt Whitman High School. In both cases, the perpetrators spray-painted racial slurs and pictures of nooses on school property, while one incident reportedly included the word “lynch.”
Following the June incident, the three boys turned up at the local police station with their parents and turned themselves. They included 18-year-old Jake F. Hoffman and two 17-year-old suspects whose names have not been released because they are minors. While one of the younger boys acted alone in the March incident, all three participated in the latest crime.
A Publicity Stunt in Poor Taste?
According to police, one of the younger boys said of the June incident that he thought it “would be fun to have something make the news given current events occurring in the United States,” reports WTOP news.
Hoffman now faces charges of conspiracy to commit destruction of property. Meanwhile, police are charging one of the minors with two counts of destruction of property, and the other with conspiracy to commit destruction of property.
In response to the March incident, Walt Whitman High School principal Robert W. Dodd released a statement condemning the vandalism.
“I want to emphasize as strongly as possible that hate crimes will not be tolerated in the Walt Whitman High School community,” he said. “If it is discovered that our students were involved, they will receive serious school-based consequences and may face additional charges from Montgomery County Police.”
While it’s currently unclear whether the teens are Walt Whitman students, following the latest incident Dodd reiterated that if they are, “they will receive serious consequences.”