Since the start of this school year, swastikas have been found in middle and high schools in Reading, Lexington, Newton, Brookline, Billerica, Cambridge, Harvard, Stoughton, Canton, and Marblehead, and on the garage of an African-American family in Arlington. The Anti-Defamation League reports that in 2016 Massachusetts ranked fifth in the nation for the number of anti-Semitic incidents, with reported offenses jumping from 50 in 2015 to 125 in 2016. During this school year, as well, racist graffiti has been reported to have been found in Attleboro, Concord, Newton, Harvard, Cambridge, Brockton and Natick public schools.
Sadly, Bedford has not been immune to this intolerable trend, as indicated by the high school's discovery of two swastikas on Friday and the middle school's discovery of a swastika on Monday. Both school principals sent messages to their parent communities and they are addressing the issue with their students in a variety of ways. Despite these and potentially other unreported incidents, perpetrated by what I believe to be a tiny minority, all of the work that the schools and our community partners have been doing since the spate of anti-Semitic incidents four years ago has not been for naught. Our JGMS students' welcome poster/letters below that, to our knowledge, appeared spontaneously three days ago and have expanded ever since are a wonderful testament to the power of this ongoing work. They are a much more accurate reflection of the values that our school community holds dear.