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Swastika spray-painted outside Maryland high school, authorities say

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A swastika was spray-painted in bright orange on a wall outside Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Md., authorities said.

The incident was reported to the local police department about 5 a.m. Saturday, but authorities said no arrests have been made. Marylou Berg, a spokeswoman for the city of Rockville, said the incident is being investigated as a hate crime by the city’s police department.

The swastika was painted on an outside wall of the school near the “boy’s team room,” she said, which is near the stadium. The incident came as the school started a week of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

A letter from the school’s principal intern, Kiera Butler, went home to students and parents Monday. She wrote that the week is meant for students to “express gratitude,” but that after this incident, the scope would be broader and “students would engage in activities related to strengthening our dialogue around race, tolerance and unity.”

It is the second time within the past few months that the school’s property has been defaced with “either a word or symbol of hate,” Butler wrote. In late December, red plastic cups were used to spell out “seniors” in a fence row, but the cups were later rearranged to spell out the n-word, according to officials.

In her letter, Butler called both incidents “demeaning and not representative of the community I have grown to know and admire.”

She said that the police were called immediately and that staff removed the swastika.

“There is zero tolerance for bigotry in all forms,” Butler wrote in her letter. She said there are “no leads” on the two incidents, but she encouraged anyone to come forward if they had information.

Other, similar incidents have been reported at area high schools. In November, a swastika was found drawn on a classroom desk at Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County.

Surge of hate graffiti on bathroom walls, other areas, has Maryland county rattled

A Washington Post analysis of county school and police information found that more than three dozen bias incidents in the 2016-2017 school year had a connection to schools. Most of the incidents involved vandalism with bigoted messages, racial epithets or swastikas.

Donna St. George contributed to this report.

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