Response to racist graffiti at playground

Amherst Community Denounces Ant-Semitism

AMHERST, N.Y. -- The Amherst Central School District has released a statement following anti-Semitic graffiti discovered on playground equipment at Windermere Boulevard Elementary School. 

The school said Tuesday the Amherst Police Department has been made aware of the offensive graffiti, and the district is cooperating with an investigation into the matter. 

The graffiti was found on a playground slide, and included what looked like a Star of David, associated with Judaism, and a Nazi swastika. It has been removed. 

The safety and security of our students and families is of the utmost importance to us.  Please know we will continue to maintain a school culture of acceptance and respect that enables all students to attend a safe and educationally stimulating environment each day.  Behavior that contradicts this expectation or any other outlined in our Code of Conduct, as you know, has not and will not be tolerated, a portion of the school's statement reads.

In addition, parents and community members in Amherst organized a display of solidarity Tuesday evening at the playground in response to the offensive graffiti. 

The gathering was held at 5:30 p.m. at 291 Windermere Boulevard. 

Among the parents in attendance were Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein and Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, who both have children at Windermere. Their families, along with other Jewish families in the school, do not take images of the Holocaust lightly.

"This incident made us have a conversation with our kids that I didn't necessarily want to have," Rabbi Lazarus-Klein said. "My wife's grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and it's very much a part of our family story. And it's uncomfortable to talk to our nine-year-old, our seven-year-old, our four-year-old, about the realities of the world."

Rabbi Freirich added: "Jewish kids confront the world a little differently than non-Jewish kids. Our understanding is, that even though not all of us have grandparents who are survivors of the Holocaust, all of us have relatives who probably died in the Holocaust."

Julie Flanagan, one of the co-principals at Windermere, said staff is well-trained to handle these types of incidents to make sure students and parents feel safe.

"Our door is always open if parents need help, or assistance, on how to respond," Flanagan said. "But we know this show of support here... we have an incredible community."

Flanagan was referring to the dozens of parents and community members who came to Tuesday's gathering.

The large and supportive crowd put some parents at ease.

"Just to see everyone there, it was very moving, to me personally, and I felt much safer as a parent of kids at the school," Rabbi Lazarus-Klein said. 

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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