Vandalism at Milken Leaves Community Feeling Unsettled

Written by The Roar Editorial Staff

 

When students arrived at school on December 14th, they were unnerved to see a police car by the front gate. Word of mouth quickly spread about a vandalism incident on Milken’s gate, but many questions remained.

Los Angeles schools, including Milken, were tagged with graffiti, including the phrase “It’s time to pay.” This came just days after the Nessah synagogue vandalism that left the Milken Community on edge. 

The Roar sat down with Dr. Shulkind to get a better sense of the timeline of the vandalism incident at Milken. She explained that because of Milken’s rigorous 24-hour security, the security team discovered the incident almost immediately. The LAPD came on campus late Monday evening in order to survey the scene and do a sweep of the school to ensure that there were no threats. According to Shulkind, “It didn’t seem like an anti-Semitic incident at the time.” 

However, as the situation unfolded, Shulkind learned that other institutions had also been vandalized. The members of Mulholland Educational Corridor Association, which is composed of the Headmasters of schools located on Mullholand, began to post about incidents at their institutions. It was then that it began to seem like anti-Semitism may have been involved. “We were very careful not to call it a hate crime at first,” said Shulkind. Soon after, though, the LAPD classified the vandalism at Milken, Westwood Charter Elementary, and the AJU as hate crimes. This came out as a result of swastikas and devils spray-painted on Westwood Charter and the AJU respectively in addition to threatening messages. 

The vandalism hit particularly close to home for the community, especially following the ransacking and vandalism at Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills just days before. The temple, a cornerstone of Los Angeles’ Iranian Jewish community was broken into on Saturday morning before services with Torahs ripped apart and relics desecrated.  

The Roar asked Milken students how they felt once they heard about the vandalism on campus. Maya Robin ‘20 commented on the situation, saying, “Typically you hear about anti-Semitism acts far away, but it’s frightening to hear it happening on our own campus, a place that a lot of us think of as a second home.” 

This sentiment was echoed by many other students who have grown up seeing acts of anti-semitism on the news but never expected it to happen so close to home. To the students who have not endured direct anti-semitism before, it was a shock. In the words of Kevin Cohen ‘21, “I’ve never really felt scared of stuff like this…it’s something really scary to hear and it kinda shook me for the whole day.” 

Although the student body was frightened, confidence in Milken’s security team alleviated the fear for many. As Ethan Ritz ‘21 commented, “I’m not really scared of vandalism because I know we have a great security team and I always feel safe at Milken.”

When asked about how Milken decides what information is appropriate to share with the community, Shulkind explained that the administration tried to strike a “balance between transparency and not creating panic.” “We created a strategic leadership team internally and created a conference call where we made the decision about what to tell the community,” she told The Roar.

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