A black student will be charged with a hate crime for writing “whites only” on a wall near a water fountain at Seymour High School.
The 17-year-old senior, whose name was not released by police, was arrested Wednesday and charged with breach of peace for a separate incident at the high school. Police said while in custody, he confessed to writing the message, which was found during the homecoming dance on Saturday.
In Connecticut, a person is guilty of third-degree bigotry when they, with the intent to intimidate or harass because of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity, damage or deface property or threaten by word or act. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a $2,000 fine.
The message, which is reminiscent of segregated water fountains during the 1950s and 1960s, was not the first racist graffiti found at the high school this year, according to police. A few weeks earlier, graffiti was spray painted on the side of the high school, but was removed before it was reported to police, Lt. Robert J. Fox, spokesman for the Seymour Police Department, said Tuesday. Several parents met with Police Chief Michael Metzler Tuesday to complain about the earlier incident, Fox said.
Kearns said this week he spoke with several students about the incident and was able to pinpoint a suspect based on anonymous tips and interviews.
“Racism is not tolerated here in Seymour,” Kearns said. “It’s very upsetting to see that.”
According to the 2000 census, the town is 92 percent white, 3 percent Hispanic and 1.4 percent black.