Two area schools six blocks apart in East Denver were vandalized last weekend, with shocking undertones. The damage included extensive anti-Semitic graffiti and other hate messages displayed at George Washington High School, 655 S. Monaco Pkwy., and a broken window and damaged electrical supply at Denver Academy of Torah (DAT), 6825 E. Alameda Ave.
The two incidents, despite their geographical proximity, were not related, according to authorities.
“There’s no reason to believe they are connected,” said Nate McGee of the Denver Police Dept.
Staff and students arrived to DAT Monday morning, Oct. 18, to discover a broken window at the high school annex building, along with a damaged supply panel. According to DPD reports, someone threw two rocks at a window near a gate at an adjacent apartment complex late Sunday evening.
An area resident told police that the perpetrator made an anti-Jewish statement before leaving the scene.
“It is very unfortunate,” Kelley Schuler, director of operations at DAT, told the IJN.
Meanwhile, at George Washington High School, vandals Saturday evening spray-painted swastikas and anti-Jewish messages on the front doors of the school and on an outdoor utility shed as well as an athletic field equipment buildings. Students were off from school Monday.
Kristen Waters, principal at George Washington, wrote in an email to parents Monday: “We will not tolerate this reprehensible act of hate in our community and condemn these actions.”
“We are doing everything possible to identify who is responsible for this horrific hate crime,” Waters continued.
The ADL was quick to respond to these events.
“It is deeply disturbing that a Jewish school and a public high school were targeted with vandalism and hateful graffiti,” said ADL Regional Director Scott Levin in a statement.
“This type of hateful behavior will not be tolerated in our community,” added Levin. “All students, whether they attend a religious school or a public school, deserve to learn in an environment free of intimidation and intolerance.”
There were no visible signs of extra security personnel at either campus early Tuesday.
The ADL reported in a statement Monday that hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents reported to law enforcement in Colorado rose 34% from 2019 to 2020, including 60 anti-Semitic incidents reported to ADL in 2020.
“This is just a really bad weekend for the community,” Levin told the IJN. “It creates a lot of anxiety.”
“It’s very difficult to locate the perpetrators,” he added.
JEWISHcolorado runs a Jewish Student Connection club at George Washington. Regional Security Advisor Phil Niedringhaus was dispatched to the scene Monday.
Niedringhaus called the display “an extreme act of vandalism.”
Meanwhile, across the street from DAT, on Newport Way in the Winston Downs neighborhood, resident Austin Swafford, who moved to the neighborhood in July, was surprised to hear of the vandalism.
“Other than the traffic you see,” Swafford said while gazing toward Alameda Ave., “it’s pretty uneventful around here.”
That said, Swafford added: “But it’s no surprise, given there are targets like this in any city.”
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