Teens Who Vandalized Historic Black School Sentenced To Visit Holocaust Museum
A group of Virginia teenagers have been sentenced to visiting the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum after being convicted of spray-painting swastikas and "white power" on a historic black school.
The five teenage boys, who are all around the age of 16 and 17, had gone to the Ashburn Colored School in Ashworth, Virginia, back in September of last year with spray cans, which they used to deface the building.
Aside from having to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the teens will also have to read books from a list that includes works by prominent black, Jewish and Afghan authors; listen to an interview with a former student of the Ashburn Colored School; and write a research paper on hate speech.
The research paper will have to explain "the message that swastikas and white power messages on African American schools or houses of worship send to the African American community as well as the broader community, which includes other minority groups," while the reading list includes works from Ta-Nehisi Coates (his memoir The Beautiful Struggle); Elie Wiesel (Night); and others from Alice Walker; Toni Morrison and Khaled Hosseini.
None of the teens had prior troubles with the law, and three of them were minorities, leading the prosecutor to believe that they were motivated by teenage naivete and not racial hatred.
"It really seemed to be a teachable moment. None of them seemed to appreciate — until all of this blew up in the newspapers — the seriousness of what they had done," Attorney Alex Rueda said in an interview with the Washington Post.
Following the incident, a number of residents volunteered on a "community restoration day" to fix the damage that had been done. People also donated to a GoFundMe page for the school, with the page getting over $70,000 (Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder also contributed an additional $35,000).