SAN JOSE, Calif. - San Jose police are investigating three instances of a hate crime committed in the Mount Pleasant Elementary School District in the past 10 months. Administrators say the acts have them shocked, angered, and unified.
“We do not tolerate bigotry in our community,” said Superintendent Mariann Engle.
She said there are a total of three crimes involving use of the so-called N-word, dating back to 2019. But one of the crimes took place last week as Black History Month was winding down. One incident took place at August Boeger Middle School and two at Sanders Elementary School.
“Four years ago, we started to see a rise in hate crimes. We started to see that,” said Magdalena Carrasco, (D) San Jose City Council Dist. 5.
The school district has 2,000 students, but only 20 are African-American, or 1%. Officials said they do not believe the three crimes were committed by the same person, and may not have been done during school hours. The head of the San Jose-Silicon Valley NAACP said use of the N-word has been popularized in entertainment, and adult speech.
“Young kids often will hear mom and dad say it. And they’ll hear mom and dad argue and say it. Or somebody will cut mom off in traffic and they’ll hear it. And those young ears capture it and they know to use it as a derogatory slur from that point on,” said Rev. Jethroe Moore II.
In one of the incidents at Sanders, someone used a magic marker to write the N-word on a teachers classroom door. That teacher is African-American. The San Jose Police Department is investigating, for vandalism and for committing a hate crime.
“It is painful and heartbreaking to see hatred in our community,” said Engle.
District officials said they’re installing a new video surveillance system at all five schools, and creating a Black Student Union at Boeger Middle School.
“We need to focus on what brings us all together, and for us it’s really love. Love of community and love of one another,” said Sylvia Arenas, (D) San Jose City Council Dist. 8.
It’s an old lesson now targeted toward some of the youngest students as this district unifies against acts of hate.