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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will push for hate crime enhancements to felony charges of vandalism expected to be filed soon against three Calabasas High School students, an official from the Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.
The three 11th graders confessed to investigators on Tuesday to defacing their school late Friday night with extensive anti-Semitic and racist graffiti. The three students, all of whom have been described as “4.0 students” have not been named because they are minors.
The three were arrested Wednesday morning and released to their parents’ custody.
“We are going to file felony vandalism charges, with a hate crime enhancement,” Capt. Joe Stephen of the Malibu/Lost Hills Station said. The Sheriff’s Department investigation has not yet been completed, and the ultimate decision about whether to charge the students with a hate crime will be made by a Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Initial reports had said that the sheriff’s department would not pursue hate crime charges, but Stephen denied that the more severe designation had ever been off the table.
“Obviously those symbols and signs are despicable and shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone,” Stephen said of the graffiti, which included numerous swastikas, a spray-painted portrait of Hitler and the words “Whites Only” scrawled above a water fountain. “The Sheriff’s Department fully understands the magnitude and historical significance of those markings.”
In addition to any criminal prosecution, the students will face disciplinary action by administrators and school district officials.