A Southern California teenager who was photographed next to a makeshift swastika at a high school party is “now a former student” of JSerra Catholic High School, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The teen was just one of many Orange County high school students posing next to the Nazi symbol at a party in photos that went viral over the weekend. Some of the students pictured also have their arms raised in a Nazi salute.
JSerra, a Roman Catholic high school in San Juan Capistrano, addressed the party in a letter to parents on Tuesday, according to the Times. While the student was enrolled in JSerra at the time of the party, the Times reports, this is no longer the case.
It’s unclear whether the student was expelled or withdrew from the Catholic school. HuffPost has reached out to JSerra for comment.
“When an action takes place that is so gravely contradictory to our Christian values, we take intentional steps both to correct the behavior of the individuals involved and to instruct the entire student body as to our school’s expectations,” the letter states, according to the Times.
The school will hold talks on racist attitudes and behaviors to address the incident, administrators wrote.
Students from schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District were also photographed at the party. CBS Los Angeles reported Monday that some public school students involved in the party are facing suspension.
Adriana Angulo, a spokesperson for Newport-Mesa Unified School District, told HuffPost that “consequences and disciplinary action is being weighed, considered and administered as appropriate.”
“Due to student privacy rights, we are unable to share information about student discipline,” Angulo wrote in an email. “However, we can assure you that we will continue to hold students accountable, while also providing support.”
The teens at the party were playing a drinking game with red plastic cups and pingpong balls. At some point, the cups were rearranged into a swastika. Students then gathered around to pose for pictures, with many appearing to be laughing and smiling at the sight. The images quickly spread on social media.
The incident has drawn backlash from around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center told NPR there has been a rise in the number of hate groups in Orange County and that some of these groups have been aggressively recruiting younger people.
The Anti-Defamation League claims white supremacist groups across the country stepped up their propaganda efforts dramatically in 2018.
Some students at Newport Harbor High School wore blue on Monday to show solidarity against anti-Semitism.
The public school district is hosting two meetings this week for parents and students to discuss what happened at the party. The first of these meetings took place at Newport Harbor High School on Monday and attracted more than 500 parents, students, faith leaders, city officials and other community members, according to The Mercury News.
Max Drakeford, a senior at Newport Harbor High School and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, spoke to the crowd about how the swastika was used to oppress his family members. Drakeford said this anti-Semitic imagery isn’t new in Newport Beach ― he claimed people have drawn swastikas in his high school’s bathroom and on classroom desks.
“We’ve become desensitized to anti-Semitism because it happens so often,” Drakeford said. “We should not be desensitized.”