2021 | Schools

Racist graffiti found sprayed at Walter Johnson High, Bethesda pedestrian bridge

Police are investigating ‘multiple events involving graffiti’

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Graffiti containing the words “white pride” was found sprayed at Walter Johnson High School and on a pedestrian bridge over the Beltway this weekend.

Photos that surfaced on social media showed those words painted both inside and outside the school, as well as on the bridge, which is part of the Bethesda Trolley Trail.

In a letter to the Walter Johnson community on Sunday, Principal Jennifer Baker wrote that she learned about the graffiti that morning and was “deeply troubled and disheartened” to see graffiti “that included references to white supremacy and other hate speech.”

“Defacing our school with graffiti is bad enough, but symbols of hate speech are harmful and unsettling for many in our community,” she wrote. “We are very mindful of how such actions may evoke fear and anger and we have worked quickly to cover the images.”

Baker thanked community members for telling her about the vandalism. She also thanked school employees who removed the graffiti.

“These actions will not be tolerated and any students involved will receive disciplinary consequences in alignment with the student Code of Conduct in MCPS,” she wrote.

Baker could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

There are security cameras on the school property that might be helpful in determining the culprit, MCPS spokesman Chris Cram told Bethesda Beat on Monday.

Officer Casandra Durham, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat on Monday that police are “investigating multiple events involving found graffiti.”

She wrote that she couldn’t confirm who is involved or say whether the incidents at Walter Johnson and the trail are related “because the investigation is early on and ongoing.”

In June 2020, racist vandalism was discovered at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, as well as Wilson Wims Elementary School in Clarksburg, shortly after protests broke out across the country in response to the death of George Floyd.

A graffiti incident also occurred at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac in September 2020. The messages were varied, including references to missing sports, supporting black businesses and a Hollywood celebrity.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com