Milton police arrested five high school students Friday, April 13, in connection with anti-Semitic graffiti discovered on a Jewish family’s driveway four days earlier.
Hilary Karp opened her garage door Monday morning, April 9, to find “(Expletive) you” written in shaving cream on her driveway above the Star of David with “Jew” in the middle. Blue glitter had been sprinkled on the star.
“I felt like I was in Europe in the 1940s while cleaning my driveway,” Karp said. “Obviously, I have never lived in Europe, and I was not alive in 1940, but we all have families who were.”
Trees at the home also were toilet-papered, police said.
McKenna Blaine and Katherine Stein, both 17, are charged with vandalism under a city ordinance. They were issued citations and given court dates. By Georgia law, 17-year-olds are treated as adults in criminal cases.
Three younger students are being charged with criminal trespass through the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and may not be identified under state law.
“Everyone at the city of Milton was sickened to learn about what the Karp family woke up to on Monday morning, and many of our residents have shared similar feelings with both the family and our staff,” Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said in a statement. “While this isn’t something we’ve ever experienced in our city, one time is simply too many. I’ve personally reached out to the family to express my sadness and offered the full support of our staff.”
The Milton Police Department said it explored all local, state and federal laws that could apply to the case and contacted the FBI about the possibility of using the federal hate-crimes statute. Georgia is one of five states without a hate-crimes law.
“We worked to make sure that these students fully understand the severity of their actions,” Milton police spokesman Capt. Charles Barstow said in a statement issued by City Hall. “All expressed remorse for their behavior to our detectives, and it’s also my understanding that some have even communicated directly with the Karp family.”
Karp said the days after the anti-Semitic discovery were hard for her family.
“I served as a soldier in the Israeli army, and this was way harder than the two years that I served,” she said. “My son is very angry about this. He is 18 years old and is about to go play college baseball and has never run into something like this, ever.”
Karp’s son, a Milton High School student, has some baseball opportunities because he is Jewish, which may have played a part in motivating the vandalism, she said.
She publicized the incident on Facebook and spoke out about it to spare her neighbors from a similar ordeal, Karp told the AJT. “Whether they are Hindu, Muslim, black, Jewish, Christian, I don’t care. I don’t want anyone to experience it.”
She wants the teen culprits to perform some form of community service and hopes that their high school conducts a presentation against bullying and hate.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Southeast regional director, Allison Padilla-Goodman, said the ADL is talking with the high school’s principal, who is eager to adopt ADL educational programs. She said the high school is prepared to participate in No Place for Hate next year and to bring in more anti-bias education.
“Any time we talk about addressing hatred, anti-Semitism or any kind of bigotry, we need a holistic, multicog approach,” Padilla-Goodman said. “Yes, we need to have our schools take anti-bias education seriously and talk about diversity, inclusivity and bullying, but we also need parents to have these discussions at home.
“It’s hard, especially when you are bombarded with news of what’s going on in Syria, in the U.S. or Israel. There are constant issues we are all dealing with, but we need to talk about them at home, in schools, and especially community centers, churches and synagogues.”
Disturbing news can cause people to “feel a bit distraught at times, especially as a young person who is trying to understand themselves in the world,” she said. “But I think this is a time in our community where it’s all hands on deck. Everybody really needs to be engaged in these issues and talk about it with their colleagues, friends and family members and not avoid the topics because they are hard.”
“Anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem. It’s a community problem because when one group is targeted, all are at risk,” Menis said.
“With acts of hate against diverse groups on the rise, our community must continue to come together and stand up against them. In addition to supporting our law enforcement, we, from parents, to educators, to religious and community leaders, must turn acts of hate into teachable moments that advance tolerance and respect for all the diverse people who call Atlanta home.”