Police are investigating after they say a swastika shape was found carved into a playground canopy at a Falls Church elementary school.
Officials believe the vandalism occurred sometime between the 1:30 p.m. on Friday, February 22 and 12:30 p.m. on Monday, February 25 at the playground at Mt. Daniel Elementary School on Oak Street.
The discovery was made by a teacher at the school, police say. The canopy was immediately removed.
"The City of Falls Church takes acts of anti-Semitic vandalism very seriously," said Police Chief Mary Gavin in a statement released to FOX 5. "Our community will not stand for this unacceptable crime of hatred. We urge anyone with information to reach out to us immediately."
Parents at the school were notified by the superintendent. Anyone with information should contact police at 703-248-5053.
LETTER SENT HOME TO PARENTS:
Dear FCCPS Community,
I want to let you know about an act of vandalism that occurred sometime over the weekend to our new playground. During the lunch period today it was discovered, by a teacher, that one of the shade canopies was cut up with what appears to have been a sharp object. Further, one of the cuts made was in the shape of a swastika. The canopy was removed immediately by our maintenance crews, and the police were notified simultaneously. Next week, we are putting external cameras on the MDES school building so we can monitor the school site remotely.
We are fairly certain children on the playground were unaware of the symbol because it was among a series of slashes in the canopy.
This symbol of hate is unacceptable in our community and this incident does not reflect the values of our families or the Falls Church City Public Schools. We are deeply saddened by this event and will continue to educate our children to reflect the characteristics of caring, open-mindedness, reflection, and critical thinking.
We are a community of people who care for and support each other, where our diversity is our strength, and our collective connection is a powerful force for good against hate.
WE ARE FCCPS!
The following site has resources that may be helpful in supporting your conversations with your children: https://www.tolerance.org/topics
Peter J. Noonan Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools