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Tuesday,  July 23 , 2024

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News / Northwest

City removes racist graffiti from Bellingham elementary school known for diverse enrollment

By Robert Mittendorf, The Bellingham Herald
Published: July 9, 2024, 7:50am

BALLINGHAM — Vandals wrote racist messages on a covered play area at Northern Heights Elementary over the weekend, a Bellingham Police spokeswoman said.

Graffiti that targeted Black and Jewish people was reported by a nearby resident, Megan Peters told The Bellingham Herald.

“The drawings were described as swastikas, and there were slur words that were derogatory toward Black people and some specific to Jewish people,” Peters said in an email.

“The officers documented the graffiti and were able to wash it off. Officers will check cameras in the area to see if there is footage of who did the graffiti,” she said.

Damage was estimated at $50.

“We are extremely disappointed by these acts; hate and racism have no place in our schools or on our campuses,” Bellingham Schools spokeswoman Jacqueline Brawley told The Herald. “We are grateful for the Bellingham Police Department’s quick response and help in trying to remove the graffiti. As of today, our facilities team has finished removing it completely. We are working with (police) on trying to identify the person or people responsible.”

Saturday’s vandalism was reported just weeks after a Whatcom Middle student was attacked because of his race. A suspect in that incident is facing a hate crime charge. Bellingham High reported an antisemitic incident in October.

Although students in Bellingham Public Schools are off for the summer, the YMCA offers child care at Northern Heights.

Northern Heights, which is located in the Barkley neighborhood, had an enrollment of 420 students during the 2023-24 academic year, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Its demographic of 39% enrollment among people of color makes it one of the district’s more diverse locations, according to OSPI data.