New photos of San Gabriel High School’s campus vandalism incident on May 25, 2017 were obtained through a public records request and reveal obscenities that elicited strong reactions from the community.
The graffiti included the phrase “lynch mob,” the number “666,” and phallic imagery, which was spray-painted on multiple buildings across campus. The Star of David, a homophobic slur, and profanity were also spray-painted.
Carter Spruill, president of the San Gabriel Valley National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was deeply concerned about the obscenities and how they were not addressed earlier by the school.
“This is not acceptable, especially on the heels of what just happened in Florida,” Spruill said. “It is not right to sweep an issue like this under the rug trying to keep it quiet.”
Debbie Stone, Principal of SGHS, understood the community’s concerns and said that there was no attempt to withhold information from the community.
“We wanted to have anything visible immediately painted over,” Stone said. “There was no intention to withhold information, and I am open to having a discussion [on this].”
Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD) decided not to prosecute the students responsible with the Alhambra Police Department. Instead, the students were prohibited from walking at graduation, and the vandalism was handled internally as a prank.
Carolyn Daley, a parent of an African-American student at SGHS, “was ashamed that the district hid these photos from us.”
“What else could they possibly be hiding?” Daley said. “I’m not sure I would feel comfortable having my daughter go to a school that has done nothing in the vandalism case. The district should be there to help solve problems, not hide them and hope for them to go away…. I am very disappointed.”
AUSD school board member Adele Andrade-Stadler chose not to comment on the situation.
Senior Sydney Tran, president of Gay and Proud Supporters Club, acknowledged that little has changed in terms of treating members of the LGBTQ community.
“[The graffiti which said ‘SG Fags’] makes me feel bad because I can’t believe that ‘fag’ is still a word that straight people can use to degrade gay people,” Tran said. “I think it’s just ridiculous that it’s still a thing in 2018—especially considering that we live in a really ‘blue’ state. I did feel attacked as someone part of the LGBTQ community.”
Although Tran does not think anyone was physically hurt from the vandalism, it “should have been considered almost a hate crime.”
“[The vandalism] wasn’t targeted toward anyone homosexual, but [the vandals] still used hate speech,” Tran said. “It’s a thin line.”
Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel Valley, felt that although the incident may not be considered a hate crime directly, it is important to acknowledge its significance.
“I think the fact that this has happened is something the school should take seriously,” Morris said. “[They] should use this as an opportunity to educate on the importance of differences. In the climate we are in, administration is responsible for ensuring the safety of all students.”
A student, who knows the vandals and asked to remain anonymous, believes that they went too far, but that the students did not have racist or offensive intentions.
“I think it was just a joke; I don’t think they meant it,” the student said. “I used to hang around with them at lunch. Jokes would be thrown around all the time, but we knew not to take it personal….They just wanted to throw a harsh prank for their senior year. I guess this one went a little too far.”
Other students, like senior Brandon Chow, believe that the vandalism was a serious incident that needs to be addressed.
“This is messed up; this isn’t a prank,” Chow said. “[The school] didn’t really get rid of it. It affects students because they’ll look at it and feel really uncomfortable.”
AUSD will be holding a school board meeting tonight at 6:00 p.m at the District Offices, 1515 West Mission Road, Alhambra. Environmental Science teacher David Whitman will be speaking about the vandalism, as he did in November. The meeting is open to the public.