NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — School officials are expressing concern after a group of Newport Beach high school students made a swastika and saluted Hitler at an off-campus party and then posted the photos on social media.
Newport Harbor High School and Costa Mesa High School students posted pictures on Snapchat of students playing beer pong with cups set up like a swastika and saluting Hitler with captions like, “German engeneraing (sic).”
Newport-Mesa Unified School District President Charlene Metoyer says the district had a crisis management meeting Sunday to address the situation.
“We have a concern both for the physical health of students who are underage drinking as well as the mental health of our students or their friends that thought this was an OK thing to do,” she said.
“More should’ve been done to make sure the students recognize the severity of the symbols they were using. It is not something funny. It’s a very, very serious situation,” she continued.
The pictures have sparked outrage. Some students CBS2 spoke with say they are horrified by the actions of their peers and are adamant this does not express the views of most kids on campus.
“Seeing my peers celebrating — not only taking the time to carefully lay out a symbol like that but to then do the salute — and smiling and laughing while they’re doing it; and that no one thought it was a bad idea is pretty shocking to me and bothers me a lot,” said senior Sam Quattrociocchi.
Other students say they are disgusted but not surprised.
District officials say they are trying to figure out what, if any, disciplinary action can be taken.
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley stated in a release the school district issued an alert via email to district administrators and board members after reports of the event surfaced. Foley stated there was “no place” for the “hateful symbols” in the community but urged others to “discourage vilification of these teens.”
“Glorifying or even joking about these symbols contradicts the values we share as a diverse community. Normalizing these symbols as a joke is dangerous. We must challenge this kind of bias. We cherish our city’s Jewish community, as well as people of all backgrounds, religions, ethnicity, genders and more. This abhorrent anti-Semitic activity is divisive, unbecoming of our community and leads ultimately to hate and discrimination,” Foley stated, adding in part: “While we take seriously and object to this hateful activity, I discourage vilification of these teens. Instead, we need to seriously address why teens in our community might think these types of hateful symbols are acceptable or funny and worthy of selfies.”