Graffiti that was described by Manteca Unified School District officials as “disturbing” was discovered scrawled across the East Union High campus – leaving janitorial staff to clean up the profane language and vulgar images before any students arrived on campus.
While they were mostly successful in eliminating the graffiti before any students arrived on campus, it was seen by some in the school community and prompted a social media buzz that was ultimately addressed on Friday by both the district and the Manteca Police Department who were working side-by-side to figure out the best way to keep the public informed while at the same time protecting the integrity of the investigation and the safety of the school site.
“The graffiti was disturbing on multiple levels,” the district said in a release about the incident that was distributed Friday afternoon. “This action will not be tolerated and is not reflective of the student body at large.
“We appreciate the concerns of our students and want to reassure all those affected, East Union High School administration are working closely with the Manteca Police Department in coordinating efforts to protect students and staff from any discriminatory or vulgar displays on our campus.”
According to the Manteca Police, who were brought into investigate the matter and will submit charges to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office for potential prosecution, the matter was known about on Thursday but the decision was made not to disclose the incident to the public for multiple reasons – chiefly to protect the integrity of the criminal investigation as well as not give the recognition that the potential responsible party or parties may have been seeking.
Once word began circulating on social media and a narrative was being formed, Manteca Police released a statement clarifying what happened and why the response was what it was.
“The Manteca Police Department was recently made aware of postings on other social media sites that discussed a recent vandalism incident that occurred at East Union High School,” the post read. “Both the police department and the Manteca Unified School District have been working together on this incident to identify the responsible suspect(s).
“A decision was made not to post or release any information regarding this incident (at least initially) to both protect the integrity of the criminal investigation, but to also not give any acknowledgement to the responsible suspect(s).”
In its letter to the parents and students at East Union High School that was disseminated on Friday, the district thanked the school community for banding together to send a clear message that such profanity and hate will not be tolerated and reiterated its stance that the person responsible will be held accountable for their actions across the board.
“Thank you for continuing to support our high school community in critical conversations about acceptance of all human beings, regardless of their age or gender,” the statement read. “We must support one another and teach tolerance, not hate.
“Criminal activity of this nature is not acceptable. It is the goal of the Manteca Unified School District, the Manteca Police Department, and the community at large to hold those responsible for committing such acts accountable both criminally, administratively, and civilly.”
According to Manteca Police, the investigation is still active and as such no additional information like the nature of the graffiti or other details will be released to the public at this time.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.