ROSWELL, Ga. — After a swastika and other offensive graffiti was found on the campus of Centennial High School in Roswell a week ago, a region-wide community group is holding a town hall on Sunday evening at a local synagogue to address the rise of hate speech in schools and the community at large.
When the graffiti was initially found, Centennial principal Anthony Newbold said staff contacted Fulton County School Police. Roswell Police were also tasked with looking into the situation.
Parents were very upset after the incident.
"It hit home hard for us," said one parent, Willard Woodrow. "My father fought in World War II. He fought very hard to keep this type of hate from coming here."
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After last week's incident, Newbold wrote in a letter to parents that there is "no place for hate" at Centennial and that vandalism at the school would not be tolerated.
"None of us want that for these students," said another parent, Lisa Stamey. "None of us want out community to feel like they're not welcomed here."
Stamey said that one of the biggest disappointments for her is that authorities won't be able to prosecute the vandalism as a hate crime.
"I think things like this can get swept under the rug because there is no legislation to hold somebody accountable," she said.
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Georgia is one of five states in the US that does not currently have hate crime statue - something it did have at one point. The state Supreme Court, however, ruled the law unconstitutional in 2004 because it was "too vague."
After the vandalism last week, Newbold said that he had been in touch with several rabbis in the community regarding a "unified response" to what had happened at Centennial.
The Atlanta Initiative Against Anti-Semitism heldSunday evening's forum at Temple Emanu-El in Sandy Springs to have what they called a frank discussion with school and community leaders as well as law enforcement, Holocaust educators, local government and the ADL.
Organizers said the theme they hoped to impress upon attendees was unity.
"We will not be silenced in the face of rising hatred. We must stand together as a whole community - not just the Jewish community, not just other communities. We're all one community."