A series of photos featuring a group of teenagers crowded around a swastika made of red plastic cups – laughing, toasting and Sieg Heiling over the Nazi symbol – is shaking swaths of predominantly white and affluent communities across Orange County, Calif., where at least some of the teens are enrolled in high school.
The pictures were taken at a recent party and posted to Twitter and Snapchat over the weekend, going viral and ultimately capturing the attention of local law enforcement and Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials which have both launched investigations into the students’ activities.
“While these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all their forms,” the district told NPR in an emailed statement.
2019. White teens are making swastikas for fun and giving Nazi salutes with pride.
These teens are from Newport Harbor High School and Costa Mesa High School in Orange County, California.
Hard to wrap my mind around this kind of bigotry. pic.twitter.com/CYONYfiVOX
— Shaun King (@shaunking) March 4, 2019
The statement followed letter sent to parents on Sunday confirming some students “created inappropriate anti-semitic symbols.”
“Many times off-campus student actions, under the care of their parents and guardians, negatively impact our educational environment. We take our responsibility to students seriously when they are in our care and when their actions outside our care impact our learning environment,” officials said, adding that the district does not “shy away from this responsibility.”
Adriana Angulo, a spokesperson for the district, told NPR officials are cooperating with Costa Mesa and Newport Beach Police Departments in an investigation to determine a course of action. Students are suspected of underage drinking.
Most of the teenage boys and girls in the photo are hamming it up for the camera, celebrating as nearly all raise as their right hand to deliver what looks like the Nazi salute. A few can be seen holding their phones and at least one girl appears to be taking a picture of the swastika made up of about 100 red plastic cups that look as though they’ve been set up to play a white supremacist version of the popular drinking game, beer pong.
Several outraged Instagram and Twitter users have been spreading screen grabs of the images online, adding what they say are the names of the individuals involved — an act that is drawing some criticism from people who argue the students are too young to have their identities published.
Charlene Metoyer, president of the school board, told The Mercury News she was “simply devastated.”
“As a school board, we’re not only concerned by the underage drinking, but also the mental health of the students who participated in this horrendous act and all their fellow students who will be affected by it. This is appalling to not just our Jewish student community, but to all of us who care about human rights.”
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SOURCE: NPR, Vanessa Romo