Swastika symbol spray painted on Mechanicsville High School football field

On Monday, school officials found a swastika spray-painted on the football field of Mechanicsville High School.
Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 4:52 AM EDT
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HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - On Monday, Mechanicsville High School’s administration released a statement regarding a swastika symbol that was found spray-painted on the football field.

“Every time that Nazi symbol rears its head in Virginia, Blacks and Jews and other marginalized peoples feel that trauma all over again of what has been perpetrated by white supremacy,” explained Rabbi Dovid Asher, a rabbi at Keneseth Beth Israel.

Since Hamas first attacked less than a month ago - anti-Semitic incidents have increased by nearly 400 percent compared to this time last year - according to the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization.

“This is the aftermath of the worst massacre since the Holocaust, that happened on October 7th,” said Rabbi Asher.

Alex Keisch is a Holocaust survivor who remembers the terror as if it were yesterday. He said that symbols and other hateful actions make the Jewish community feel unsafe.

“Horror, fear. My whole family was murdered, my twin brother... my father and I were are the only ones that remain,” explained Alex Keish, a holocaust survivor in the Richmond area.

He told NBC12 that there was a saying created after the Holocaust - ‘Never Again’ - to ensure those who were killed aren’t forgotten, and so this doesn’t happen again. However, Keish said he sees similarities between the Holocaust and now.

Rabbi Asher hopes students, and the community, become more educated.

“Because they have to know it’s real, it’s not just in a book, it’s not just in a story. It’s their neighbors, their friends, their coworkers,” said Rabbi Asher.

Here’s a statement from Mechanicsville High School’s principal and the Hanover Schools’ superintendent:

Dear Students, Families, Faculty, and Staff,

Earlier (Monday), it was discovered and reported to the school administration that our football field had been vandalized with graffiti. To our disbelief, this vandalism included a swastika. This obscene symbol of pure hate and intolerance has no place in our society and stands in direct opposition to the principles of unity, respect, and inclusion that we hold dear at our school and across our school division.

We immediately reported this incident to our valued partners with the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, and they are investigating. If you have any information that could assist in the investigation, please contact the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at (804) 365-6140. We are fully committed to holding those responsible for this disgraceful and unthinkable act accountable for their actions. Additionally, we took immediate steps to remove the graffiti from the field.

This vandalism is not only an attack on school property but an affront to the very principles and values that we stand for as a school and as a school division. We condemn this vile act of vandalism, antisemitism, and all forms of hatred in the strongest possible terms. Mechanicsville High School and all 26 schools in HCPS are places of learning, growth, and respect. We are committed to being a school division where all students, faculty, staff, and community members feel welcome, valued, and safe. Again, we unequivocally denounce this vandalism and the hateful symbol used.

In closing, we will not let these reprehensible and thoughtless actions define who we are as a school or school division. Rather, we reaffirm our commitment to inclusion for all members of our school community and respect for one another. Thank you for your continued support.