OPRF students 'cyber-flashed' with swastika at assembly

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 officials are investigating another anti-Semitic incident at the school, the fourth in a series of hate speech incidents that have occurred within the past few weeks.

Earlier this morning, after 9 a.m., someone "AirDropped" the image of a swastika from somewhere in the high school's auditorium to students' cell phones during a Tradition of Excellence ceremony, according to an email sent to families Friday from Karin Sullivan, the district's communications director.

"Administration and security are aware and are in full investigation mode," Sullivan stated in the email. "We will provide more information as soon as we are able. Thanks to so many of you for your vigilance in reporting this immediately."

This appears to be an instance of OPRF students having been "cyber-flashed," which is the practice of sending unwanted and often offensive photos and videos to strangers through Apple's AirDrop feature.

AirDrop allows Apple users to easily transfer files by way of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth between devices like Mac laptops, iPads and iPhones that are within close proximity to each other. In order to avoid getting unsolicited content in iPhone, click the "General" tab in iPhone Settings and select "AirDrop" near the top. Choose "Contacts only" or select to turn off the option to avoid receiving content altogether.

"The safety of your children and everyone in this building is our highest priority," Sullivan added. "These incidents generate a great deal of email to the Board, superintendent, security, myself, and others. Please know that we read them all, but with a swiftly moving and broad investigation such as this, we are not always able to respond. Thank you for your understanding."

Friday's incident is the most recent in a string of racist and anti-Semitic incidents that have taken place on the OPRF campus in the last few weeks. Last week, officials discovered racist and anti-Semitic graffiti found in bathroom stalls and on a shed near the high school's tennis courts. Those incidents are currently under investigation by Oak Park police and D200 officials.

Officials are also currently dealing with the fallout from an incident involving a teacher accused of saying the N— word in class last month. Students and parents have complained that the teacher was only given short administrative leave.

As a result of Friday's swastika incident, OPRF teacher Anthony Clark announced that he is planning a Unite Against Hate March at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Clark said that the march will start at the high school's main entrance, 201 N. Scoville Ave., and proceed to Harlem and Lake, where activists will hold a rally.

The district is asking anyone who discovers hate speech on the high school's campus to call the Welcome Center at (708) 434-3125.

Email: michael@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

12 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Daniel Finnegan  

Posted: November 15th, 2018 12:04 PM

I am trying to understand how the student can be charged with sending an obscene image, but the WJ continues to show that image as part of its reporting on the hate message. If it was obscene, wouldn't it also be wrong to show the image in a neighborhood newspaper? This student's hate message went from being seen by 100s in the assembly to 1,000s who read the article.

Nick Polido  

Posted: November 10th, 2018 10:25 PM

Kevin really: "this kid's ass is grass" "distorted creeps" "those kids futures were ruined." "Reap what you sow" "What a bad job of parenting" Is this where we're going with some stupid kids? Let's make sure we crucify himher, bring in the FBI maybe Homeland Security. Maybe the poor parenting should also be prosecuted?

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: November 10th, 2018 12:56 PM

Bruce, it doesn't matter if it involved the Internet, it was still an electronic communication (such as a telephone call or fax, and that involves the Feds). I predicted the Feds would get involved, and they caught him or her instantly, and this kid's ass is grass. Wait for the other shoe or shoes to drop -- there will be be more than one person. As I said before, they want bragging rights, and need emotional backup from likewise distorted creeps. Kudos to law enforcement on this. By the way, my uncle's police badge sits retired on the wall at 35th & Michigan, Chicago Police HQ, for death in the line of duty. I know how cops work. Wait for law enforcement to break this kid, to find out whether he/she was a copycat, or is tied into others. My brother was Board President at Bloomfield Hills. Michigan, where most auto execs live, where they had a bombing incident, and building vandalism. The Feds got those to kids to break. Case solved, those kids futures were ruined. Reap what you sow. What a bad job of parenting. But as I said, wait for the other shoes to drop.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: November 10th, 2018 1:41 AM

Kevin: I do not think apple "airdrop" involves the internet. It's direct "peer" to "peer" between devices. So I would think any charges related to the Internet (if such charges exist in the first place) would be moot.

Mindy Credi  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 7:37 PM

Please don't disparage Karin. She is responsible for communicating not decision making. I too received a number of emails from the school. I wish the investigation would move more swiftly, and can't wait until the perps are apprehended.

Jen Purrenhage  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 5:21 PM

One suggestion for WJ for future stories: it would be nice if news outlets could put another photo as the primary on this story - not to not publish it, but to have it not be the default image for the story. It's distressing to see this image of hate appear over and over in social media feeds.

Jen Purrenhage  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 5:18 PM

Yeah, I was pretty puzzled by the commend from John Sheehan. Maybe not a high school parent or not the primary parent on the account? I am an OPRFHS parent and the amount and quality of communication today (and generally) is prompt, clear, generally fits the purpose.

Kurt Roskopf  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 4:47 PM

Well, you may feel Karin Sullivan's response is inadequate in substance, but it certainly isn't inadequate in quantity. I've received no fewer than six emails from the school today.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 4:19 PM

It appears the person(s) have been caught.

Nick Polido  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 3:38 PM

Keitel's sage wisdom was spot on Kevin. John, this being a deadly serious matter is so over the top, you'd think Joseph Goebbels had moved to Oak Park and set up youth camps.

John Sheehan  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 2:23 PM

I feel that Karin Sullivan's response to the students and to the community at large is inadequate and alarming. In my opinion the police should have been notified and the community made aware that there is a law enforcement investigation underway. There cannot be any half measures when it comes to the safety of our students, our children and our community. Let there be no recriminations in hindsight should these threats continue or escalate. As we have witnessed in other places, this is a deadly serious matter.

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: November 9th, 2018 2:13 PM

These people (and I think there are more than one) will eventually outsmart themselves (or out-dumb themselves). In the movie "Thelma and Louise" (in my top ten, a black comedy about gender relations), the Harvey Keitel police character is asked whether "those girls" are very brainy, or just lucky. His answer: "Brains will only get you so far, and luck always runs out." They're now using the Internet (ooh--- Federal hate crime charges), which can be traced, and they left handwriting samples. Why not show those to every teacher, who has to grade written exams? Why is this more than a lone wolf? They are giving courage to each other, perhaps serving as lookouts, and they will want to share their "victory", and will probably share it with others, perhaps on social media. That will be their downfall. Felony charges, if the prosecutors so agree. They can kiss their rear goodbye. Why do I reveal this? It's because they're so stupid, they can't stop anyway. It might involve copycats. They're reveling in it, and in the case of the Internet, some sophistication. But remember Keitel's sage wisdom.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2018

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2018 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments