NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) — Orange County high school students will be punished for taking part in a party that featured Nazi salutes and beer cups shaped in a swastika.
Sources tell CBSLA’s Michele Gile that the students will be suspended after posting the photos on social media of the weekend off-campus party.
They attend three different high schools in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa and the principals from those three schools were at Newport Harbor High School Monday night to meet with angry and concerned parents.
Five hundred people gathered to express their outrage.
Jewish students told the packed gymnasium they aren’t surprised. They say that swastikas are carved into bathroom walls and desks on campus. They’ve learned to ignore Jewish jokes.
Local mayors, school district representatives, leaders from synagogues, anti-hate groups and the parents of Blaze Bernstein gathered to talk about the impacts of hate, however small.
“In an extreme case like this our son died as a result of ignorance and intolerance,” said Jeanne Pepper, Blaze Bernstein’s mother. “We want to change that and we’re here to help.”
Hundreds gave a standing ovation to two Holocaust survivors who said they are not afraid of this one thoughtless act but unaddressed where it could lead.
“Then they burn books. Then they break windows of shops. And then they incarcerate people and then they kill them,” said Holocaust survivor Myriad Shapiro. “So this is where it stops. It has to stop.”
“There is something in the air and it is scary,” said Holocaust survivor Agi Gyurik. “I think that parents have a great responsibility to educate their children.”
There are at least three investigations into the weekend hate incident involving Newport Harbor, Costa Mesa and Estancia high schools.
“The community is concerned about this type of incident because it doesn’t happen in isolation. We’re only months since the terrible attack, the massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue,” said Newport Beach’s Rabbi Gersh Zylberman from Temple Bat Yahm. He has been talking to his members who are upset and afraid.
Anti-Semitic incidents were up 94 percent in our nation’s schools in 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The rabbi says he’s seen social media posts since the original pictures were posted that are extremely troubling.
“We know that in addition to the photos of the events at that party, there are many social media posts supporting those kids’ actions and really making us even more concerned than the original incident to begin with,” said Rabbi Zylberman.
The president of the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum is inviting all of the kids at the party to come learn something.
“We’re not educating our young people adequately to know what these symbols mean,” said LA Holocaust Museum President Paul Nussbaum. “These are symbols of hate. These are symbols of a regime of hate.”
Newport-Mesa Unified officials say they are determining what action to take against the students in the pictures.
“Millions of people were murdered under those swastikas,” said Eva Nathanson, a survivor who lost nearly all of her family in the Holocaust. “I was horrified. It brought back some painful memories. Also brought back some anger. Just disbelief that this is going on. It really affected the past 24 hours for me. It was very difficult.”
Another meeting to address the hateful behavior is scheduled for Thursday night at 6 p.m. This time at Corona del Mar High School.