Four Maryland students sneaked onto their school’s property the night before graduation and covered it in racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti.
But the crime was not perfect and their identities were exposed anyway. According to The Washington Post, students at Glenelg High School must log in from their phones with unique IDs in order to connect to the internet. After the initial login, the devices then continue to automatically connect whenever they are on campus. So when their mobile phones automatically connected to the school’s wi-fi network it was easy enough to track who was using the wifi at the time of the hate crime.
Technology 1. Stupid homophobic/racists 0.
The four criminals, identified as Joshua Shaffer, Seth Taylor, Matthew Lipp, and Tyler Curtiss, wore t-shirts over their faces as they spray painted the offensive language across Glenelg High School campus on May 23 last year.
Taylor recounted the incident to the Washington Post, saying the teens planned to spray paint “Class of 2018”, but the senior prank flew out of control. Instead, the four men tagged the campus with crude penis drawings, swastikas, ‘KKK’, ‘Jews’, ‘f*gs’, ‘n*gs’ and the word ‘f*ck’ over and over, the graffiti also included anti-Semitic slurs as well as a direct attack on school Principal David Burton, who is black.
Taylor said he watched as his friend began writing: ‘BURTON IS A N***ER.’
“I wish I said something like: ‘This is stupid, guys. It’s not worth it. We could actually get in trouble for this’,” Taylor told the Post.
Taylor continued: “I don’t know. Everyone was doing it. We didn’t realise the consequences,” he said of his failure to speak up. “It was just spray paint. It just happened. It is all a blur.”
At a press conference following the sentencing Attorney Rich Gibson said: “This was something that was 50 separate acts of hate, you have anti-Semitic graffiti, you have racist graffiti, racist graffiti that targeted Principal Burton by name, you have homophobic references that were made.”
Principal David Burton estimates that there were more than 100 markings in total, left on sidewalks, walls, trash cans and lunch tables.
All four criminals were arrested and charged with vandalism, destruction of property and a hate crime – punishable by up to six years in prison.
Two of them tried to have the hate crime charges dismissed under the First Amendment, but the free speech argument didn’t hold up.
The group were sentenced to probation, community service and consecutive weekends in jail ranging from nine to 18 weeks.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.