The Newport Beach, Calif. community was outraged over the weekend when photos surfaced on social media of high school students giving a Nazi salute behind red Solo cups in the shape of a swastika. Screenshots taken from Snapchat showed some photos had the captions “German rage cage” and “ultimate rage.”
“I was simply devastated to see that,” school board president Charlene Metoyer told the Orange County Register of the photos. “As a school board, we’re not only concerned by the underage drinking, but also the mental health of the students who participated in this horrendous act and all their fellow students who will be affected by it. This is appalling to not just our Jewish student community, but to all of us who care about human rights.”
Several kids in the photo were identified as Newport Harbor High School students, and students from other high schools were also believed to be at the off-campus party, according to Metoyer.
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Newport Harbor High School administrators said in a statement posted on Instagram that they were informed of the photo on Sunday morning and “continue to gather information regarding the conduct of these students and work with law enforcement.”
District spokesperson Adriana Angulo added in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle that they are asking that parents partner with them “in helping students make good decisions, be respectful of others, and to always use good judgment.”
“We remain focused on educating students on all aspects of life’s challenges and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices, and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large,” Angulo said.
Metoyer told the Orange County Register that district and school administrators planned to meet on campus on Sunday with a crisis team to determine next steps. She said she’d “like to see genuine remorse from the perpetrators here.”
Newport Harbor High School’s student body representatives issued a statement on Instagram joining the administration in denouncing the photo and vowing to promote “goodness, kindness and respect over hatred.”
“There is no place for hateful symbols of swastikas and Nazi salutes in our community,” Costa Mesa mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement posted to Facebook Sunday night. She added that “this abhorrent anti-Semitic activity is divisive, unbecoming of our community and leads ultimately to hate and discrimination.”
However, she also discouraged the “vilification” of the teens pictured and instead urged the community to address why the students would think anti-Semitic symbols are “acceptable or funny.”