Bethesda, MD – Police responded to reports of antisemitic graffiti at a Maryland high school on Saturday, school officials and police say.
Graffiti reading “Jews Not Welcome” was discovered spray-painted on a sign outside Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, according to the school’s principal.
This is the second time in just over a month that antisemitic vandalism has been discovered in Maryland’s Montgomery County, according to police. In mid-November, Bethesda Trolley Trail, a local recreation trail, was also vandalized.
In a written statement, Montgomery County Police Department Chief Marcus Jones said officers responded to the scene just after 8 a.m. ET and are investigating the incident and have coordinated with the Anti-Defamation League.
“Acts of hate and bigotry are on the rise across the country and in Montgomery County,” Marcus wrote. “Officers are also actively increasing patrols to include community centers, schools, and places of worship throughout the county.”
Police said they are working to obtain potential photos of any suspects but no one is in custody.
In a letter to the school community, Walt Whitman High School Principal Robert Dodd confirmed that the words “Jews Not Welcome” were written on the school sign. CNN journalists at the scene noted the graffiti had been washed away and was illegible by Saturday afternoon.
“This behavior is abhorrent, extremely hurtful, and will not be tolerated at Walt Whitman High School,” Dodd wrote.
The school will use the incident as an opportunity to continue education around antisemitism and “celebrating our diverse community,” the principal added. On Wednesday, members of the Walt Whitman High School Jewish Student Union led their classmates through a “lesson on confronting antisemitism,” according to Dodd.
“While we are deeply disturbed and disappointed by what occurred today, it will not deter us from our collective mission to end antisemitism and intolerance and build a safe and inclusive school community where ALL students can thrive,” he wrote.
Walt Whitman High School enrolled 2,029 students for the 2021-22 school year, according to the school district’s website.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, who represents the district, said in a statement posted on Twitter Saturday that he was “sickened and horrified” by the antisemitic vandalism at the high school.
“Sending love and solidarity to Whitman students, families, faculty and staff,” he added. “Hate won’t win in MoCo,” he wrote, using a nickname for Montgomery County.