A teen will not face criminal charges for allegedly drawing a swastika on his school football field.
The incident happened at Georgetown Middle/High School on April 28, when administrators say the 13-year-old student dragged his foot along the artificial grass to draw the anti-Semitic symbol, according to a joint statement by the Georgetown Police Department and the Public Schools.
Investigators who spoke to the eighth-grader said he knew his actions were wrong, but “he did not fully grasp the depth of what he had done and the underlying meaning of a swastika,” according to the statement. Therefore, police recommend the student participate in a combination of community service and educational opportunities with the Jewish community.
“This incident is a clear-cut case for the restorative justice principle, which seeks to include the offender and the community members who have been wronged in formulating a criminal justice solution,” said Georgetown Police Chief Donald Cudmore. “We believe, given the offender’s age, lack of criminal history, and clear lack of understanding of the hurtful and hateful meaning behind a swastika, that this is the appropriate reaction as a law enforcement agency. However, we must do more as a community to take hateful symbols, such as the swastika, out of the lexicon.”
Members of the Georgetown and Merrimack Valley clergy community will host a public forum Thursday with police, school officials, and town leaders to discuss the incident.
“This is the beginning of a dialog,” Superintendent Carol Jacobs said. “Rather than end with the punishment of the offenders and investigation into a single action, we want to root out the causes of confusion, hatred and discrimination that plague every society. Together, we can create a more harmonious community for our students.”