2 youths accused of drawing swastikas

Symbols found on lockers, door at Clarksville school

January 18, 2003|By Jason Song and Tricia Bishop | Jason Song and Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Two Clarksville Middle School pupils have been arrested for destruction of property after drawing three swastikas on school grounds, authorities said yesterday.

The two youths, whom Howard County police and school officials did not identify because they are minors, are accused of drawing swastikas on the lockers of two seventh-grade girls and on a boys' bathroom door Wednesday afternoon.

Police also declined to give the ages of the pupils. They said they expected the pupils to be charged as juveniles. The pupils were released into the custody of their parents pending court action.

The two girls saw the drawings as school was letting out about 3 p.m. and reported them to school officials, according to authorities.

Based on information from pupil and faculty witnesses, police were able to make the arrests. The two pupils have been severely punished by the school district, said Principal Beverly Koren.

She said she could not elaborate on the punishment because of privacy issues. She declined to answer questions about whether the pupils had been suspended or expelled.

The swastikas, two of which were drawn with a blue ballpoint pen and the other in pencil, were removed shortly after they were discovered, Koren said.

Police officers talked with the families of the two girls and Koren said that she "didn't sense they were very disturbed."

Koren does not believe the girls were targets, and she suggested that the drawings were made out of foolishness rather than racism.

"Sometimes middle school students make poor choices. They want to express their coolness and impress someone, and they make poor choices. Maybe that happened here," she said.

The school, which has nearly 800 pupils, has never experienced a similar incident, Koren said, but assemblies are scheduled for Tuesday aimed at counseling and learning.

"We have to look at it as an opportunity to truly educate the students who committed the act as well as the rest of the students in the building," Koren said.

The Clarksville incident marks the first reported arrest in Howard County involving symbols of hate in recent years.

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