Police investigate hate crime graffiti at two Denver schools

Two Denver schools — including a Jewish day school — were vandalized over the weekend and are now being investigated by police as possible hate crimes.

Graffiti painted near the George Washington High School baseball field on Saturday night included homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic messages, said Kristin Waters, the school’s principal.

Denver Public School officials were on-site Sunday afternoon to make a report, though the school wasn’t informed of the incident until Monday morning, Waters said in an email to families. The hateful graffiti has since been removed.

“We will not tolerate this reprehensible act of hate in our community and condemn these actions,” Waters wrote in the email, adding that the school’s social-emotional support team will be available for students this week.

Denver Public Schools Safety and Security is investigating the incident, while a Denver police spokesman confirmed that the incident is being investigated by the department’s bias-motivated crimes team.

Just a mile down the road, an individual or multiple suspects threw a rock through one of the windows at the Denver Academy of Torah and damaged an electrical box, police said in a statement.

The Anti-Defamation League reported that when a neighbor confronted the suspect, the individual shouted an anti-Semitic slur.

Kelley Schuler, the school’s director of operations, would only say they experienced “an act of vandalism” and that the school is working with the authorities.

Police are also investigating the Denver Academy of Torah incident with the bias-motivated crimes team, a spokesperson said, and investigators are trying to determine if the incidents are related.

Scott Levin, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region, called the incidents “deeply disturbing.”

“This type of hateful behavior will not be tolerated in our community,” he said in a statement. “All students, whether they attend a religious school or a public school, deserve to learn in an environment free of intimidation and intolerance.”

Hate crimes reported to law enforcement in Colorado increase 34% between 2019 and 2020, according to FBI statistics.

And there were 60 anti-Semitic incidents reported to the ADL last year — the second-highest number over the past decade, according to the organization’s 2020 audit.

Anyone with information about either crime is encouraged to to call Denver Police at 720-913-7867(STOP) and can remain anonymous.

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