Pumpkins carved with racist symbols spark outrage, concern

Walter Perez Image
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

COATESVILLE, Pennsylvania -- Authorities are investigating a photo that shows several teenagers, believed to be students at Coatesville High School in Pennsylvania, standing behind pumpkins that have racist symbols carved into them.

The image was posted on social media and has sparked a firestorm of reaction in the Coatesville community.

The photo shows four teens seated behind four carved pumpkins.

One of the pumpkins has a swastika carved in it. Another is carved with the letters "KKK."

The other two pumpkins feature traditional jack-o-lantern faces.

It was not immediately clear who carved the pumpkins or where the photo was taken.

Coatesville police and Coatesville School District police are investigating.

The Coatesville Area School District released the following statement Tuesday night:

We are extremely disappointed that any of our students would display this kind of hatred and vile behavior. It's reprehensible and intolerable, and this photo causes deep sadness and concern. We work extremely hard to promote a tolerant, respectful, inclusive learning environment, and this is in direct opposition to everything we stand for and believe in. The photo appears to be taken outside of school hours and not on school property. While the law is specific as to the authority it confers upon schools for school-imposed discipline, the District will exercise its full authority it may have within those limits. Upon learning of the incident, our administrators immediately turned the photo over to police, and administrators are contacting parents of the students pictured. We'll be investigating the incident and continuing to work with our local equity agencies, including the PA Human Relations Commission, Mid Atlantic Equity Center, and NAACP this week as we are offering facilitated conversations for students about racism. The Coatesville Area School District is a caring school community that will not be defined by acts of hatred. We are encouraged by the outpouring of communication from students who reported this, and the many outstanding students who, on a daily basis, continue to do the right thing and who continue to stand in unity. We simply cannot accept this, and will do all we can to ensure that our community realizes that there is simply no place for hate in our school district.