Virginia Judge Metes Out Educational Sentence to Teens Who Defaced Historic Schoolhouse With Racist Graffiti: Visiting Holocaust Museum, Reading Books by Prominent Jewish, Black Authors
A group of Virginia teens who defaced a historic schoolhouse with offensive graffiti in September was given an “unusual” sentence this week — in the the form of education about the effects of racism, the Washington Post reported.
The five 16- and 17-year-olds — three of whom, according to the report, are themselves members of minorities — were ordered by the judge in their trial, to visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and read books by prominent Jewish and black authors, as punishment for spray-painting swastikas and slogans, such as “White power,” on the outside of the Ashburn Colored School in Loudoun County, which taught black pupils from 1892 until the 1950s.
The sentence was recommended by Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Alex Rueda, the report said, who concluded the kids were “motivated more by teenage naivete than by racial hatred.”
“It really seemed like a teachable moment. None of them seemed to appreciate — until all of this blew up in the newspapers — the seriousness of what they had done,” Rueda said.
In addition to the required reading list — which includes Night by Elie Wiesel and works by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison — in addition to visiting the museum, the teens are also expected to write a research paper on hate speech and listen to an interview with a former student of the school, the report said. Upon their completion of the educational tasks, the cases against them will be dismissed.
Following communal outcry over the defacement of the school, local middle- and high-school students launched a campaign to raise funds to restore the historic wooden schoolhouse. The campaign raised over $100,000 with restoration currently underway.