AKRON, Ohio– Akron Public Schools and the Akron Police Department are investigating after a swastika was found on a locker door at Ellet High School on Wednesday.
Five students are being charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief and ethnic intimidation, school officials said. The group will also face disciplinary action from the board of education.
“Our board policies are clear and firm on this and we must send a strong message to the entire community about this kind of behavior. The Akron Public Schools Board of Education is united in this message,” said Patrick Bravo, board president.
Mark Williamson, director of marketing communications for the school district, said it is not a hate crime, by statute.
“Their actions go against everything we stand for as a diverse, multi cultural district that opens its arms to everyone, equally,” said David W. James, superintendent Akron Public Schools.
The swastika and a derogatory name were visible on the door for less than an hour, Williamson said. Video surveillance aided in the investigation.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan released the following statement on Thursday:
“Last night’s incident at Ellet High School, which included a racially-charged message and image of a swastika being taped on the door of the Ellet boys basketball team’s locker room, is disturbing, offensive and unacceptable. There is no room in our City for intimidation, hatred, or bigotry of any kind. The Akron Police Department will fully investigate this incident as a suspected act of ethnic intimidation and cooperate with the Akron Public Schools to identify the responsible party or parties, and take appropriate enforcement action.
“It is essential that all our young people feel welcome, valued and safe in this city and in their school environment. Our diversity is our strength; and acts like this, intended to divide us or incite fear, will never be tolerated in Akron.”