Oak Park police are investigating racist and anti-semitic graffiti that was discovered on property at Oak Park and River Forest High School on Nov. 2, according to school officials.
The graffiti, which was drawn on a shed near the tennis courts, includes what appears to be a swastika scrawled in black next to the statements, "White power" and "F— Dancing N— Anthony Clark," referencing the popular OPRF teacher and community activist.
In a letter sent to parents and students Friday afternoon by D200 Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams and D200 Board President Jackie Moore, district officials said that the graffiti has since been removed as police investigate the incident.
Some parents and community members said the graffiti may have been up for a week and that parents had been trying to get school officials to remove it. District officials, however, offered a different account.
"Many of you were made aware of this hateful incident on social media, and we regret if that was your first communication," the letter read.
"In our current world of instant news, we are not always able to provide information prior to posts on social media," Moore and Pruitt-Adams explained. "We do however want to give our community accurate information with a sense of urgency. We are grateful that a community member brought this to our attention and did not assume we were already aware and simply hadn't acted."
District officials said that as they learn more, they will "communicate all channels to our school community and the community at large. Our hope is that anyone with additional information will provide it to the principal [Nate Rouse] (firstname.lastname@example.org) and superintendent (email@example.com)."
During an interview on Friday evening, Clark said that he found out about the graffiti today. In the afternoon, he posted a statement to the Facebook page of his nonprofit, Suburban Unity Alliance.
Clark wrote that while he appreciates the sympathy, "I don't need [it]," before adding, "I don't need apologies, I don't need for you to express your anger & shock online. I need you to understand that acts of hate like this & worse than this are part of the fabrics of even the most 'progressive,' commUNITYs.
I need you to understand how to work to be an ally in verb form, learning to get behind and empower those oppressed. I need you to realize that Trump didn't create these issues, Russia isn't responsible for bigotry & that systemic racism exists and is often supported rather Democrat or Republican is in charge. This isn't about civility or balance, as balance is impossible when individuals have never been on equal playing fields."
School officials are planning an event called Community Conversation about Hate Crimes in Our Community: Coming Together for Change, scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., inside of the high school's South Cafeteria. The event will be co-sponsored by Suburban Unity Alliance and OPRF.
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