Late Friday, a group of parents discovered racist graffiti scrawled across the marquee of an elementary school in Bucks County.
Upon seeing the derogatory statements — which targeted African-Americans and used the N-word — parents of students at Herbert Hoover Elementary School in Langhorne wiped away the spray paint. They then alerted officials at the Neshaminy School District, who sent out custodians Saturday morning.
The custodians scrubbed another racist message sprayed on school windows.
School officials reported the vandalism to police, but believe it’s an “isolated incident,” according to district spokesman Chris Stanley
Barbara Simmons of the Peace Center, a nearby nonprofit, said she considered the graffiti as part of a larger trend rippling through suburban communities. Her group has received 60 reports of racist incidents since the November presidential election. That’s a 60 percent increase over the same time last year, she said.
“We seem to have taken the veil of politeness off,” said Simmons. “And so people are more willing to say things they would normally have been thinking.”
In response to the vandalism at Hoover Elementary, the Peace Center is holding a town hall Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Middletown Township Municipal Building. Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia, former state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, and members of the Bucks County NAACP are expected to speak at the meeting.
Hoover is a predominantly white school in a predominantly white school district; just 3 percent of the school’s students identify as black. That dynamic can leave African-Americans feeling especially vulnerable, said Simmons.
“It’s not a real diverse community like Philadelphia is,” she said. “So people of color are particularly uncomfortable and can easily be targeted in our community.”