RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (KTLA) – Parents and teachers in Riverside County, California, are calling for action after an elementary school in Anza was defaced with death threats and racist graffiti.
The racial slurs and swastikas, along with other graphic images, were spray-painted on and around the Hamilton Elementary School last week.
While the incident happened during spring break, it’s unclear exactly when the vandal or vandals hit the school. A spokesperson with the Hemet Unified School District said the incident occurred last Tuesday. Officials at the school said they learned about the graffiti on Wednesday and notified law enforcement immediately before cleaning up the hateful messages on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, however, paints a different picture, saying deputies were not notified about the racist graffiti until Monday.
While the timeline is unclear, one source with a close connection to the school, who did not want to be identified, said the incident is concerning because he has a loved one at Hamilton Elementary. He believes school administrators attempted to cover up the incident by having the graffiti cleaned up before the sheriff’s department could respond.
“The most concerning thing to me is that there were three specific students named out and then underneath their names, it said, ‘Y’all f—ing die,'” the man told Nexstar’s KTLA, claiming that none of the faculty attempted to contact the parents or provide a police presence at the school when students returned.
“Within the community up here, there’s known supremacist groups up here. I haven’t seen anything like this up here before,” the man added.
District officials said anything that might have been captured on the school’s surveillance cameras was turned over to the sheriff’s department along with images of the graffiti. Hemet Unified also posted a notification about the incident on its website.
As for the threats targeting the three students, another parent told KTLA that the names were of kids who attend Hamilton High School down the street.
Many parents in the small community did not want to speak on camera, saying they feared retaliation. But others said they were shocked that they weren’t notified about the racist graffiti and threats over spring break.
“It doesn’t surprise us at all,” Philip Harrison, a parent, told KTLA. “Anza has been known for years to be very racist and picking sides of color.”
In response to criticism about how the district has handled the incident, Hemet Unified released a statement confirming an investigation.
“An active investigation is underway by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department,” the statement reads in part, “and any specific threats will be handled by law enforcement.”