OPRF Investigating ‘Racist and Anti-Semitic' Graffiti at High School

Originally published by: 5 Chicago


Investigations are underway after Oak Park River Forest High School officials say "racist and anti-Semitic" graffiti was discovered on a bathroom wall at the school Friday.

According to a letter to families and staff, students have been posting pictures of the graphic on social media, which the school says "only increases the harmful impact."

"Please consider that posting hateful speech or symbols spreads it and has unintended harmful consequences for the communities at which it is directed," the letter said.

School officials encouraged students to report any hate speech to security staff in the Welcome Center by dialing extension 3125 if in the building or by calling 708-434-3125 if outside the building, as opposed to posting on social media.

"Hate speech is a crime. We want to be clear: These types of reprehensible words and symbols have absolutely no place in our school and will not be tolerated," the letter said.

As of Friday afternoon, the school did not release information on an individual responsible for the racial slurs, swastikas and other hate speech.

OPRF has reported other incidents over past years where racially offensive language and anti-Semitic graffiti has been drawn on bathroom walls. In one case, a 14-year-old was charged after a photo of a swastika was air-dropped to students' cell phones during an assembly. 

In May 2019, OPRF was hurriedly editing its yearbook after a number of students were seen making a potentially racist hand gesture.

Several photos apparently showed students making a hand symbol in the yearbook, according to school officials, that has been associated with white supremacy as well as a so-called "circle game" popular among children.

In an incident earlier this week, an OPRF student was charged after police said he was found with a gun on school grounds Tuesday.

The 18-year-old was arrested outside the school at 201 N. Scoville Ave. and was charged with two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, Oak Park police said in a statement.

Village spokesman Erik Jacobsen said police “received a report Tuesday that a person intended to bring a gun to Oak Park and River Forest High School. The individual was stopped on school grounds before entering the building at around 12:30 p.m. and a weapon was recovered.”

School principal Lynda J. Parker told parents in an email that “everyone is safe, and school operations were not interrupted.”

She urged parents to “please emphasize to your children the importance of telling a school official if they believe there is a weapon at school.”