Chula Vista city leaders denounced hate on Thursday in the wake of the discovery of antisemitic and homophobic grafitti spray-painted on the walls of a local school.
The Bonita Vista middle and high school campuses were vandalized on Halloween, according to investigators.
On Thursday, the elected officials' message was simple: End hate against the Jewish community and LGBTQ communities.
"The content, the ideation, the messaging, the hate speech directed at people of the Jewish faith and heritage and culture and those in the LGBTQ community is very, very, very disturbing," Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Padilla said.
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Investigators said the vandalism was committed between 4-6 p.m. Sunday. The incidents are believed to be related due to the same paint colors — teal, yellow, and black — used at both locations. Along with the graffiti, a window was broken at the high school. Police said they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
The vandalism will cost thousands of dollars to repair, according to investigators, but the damage to the community is incalculable.
"The damage that was done is to the heart, to the soul," Padilla said. "It’s to the cohesiveness of a community, because anytime and anywhere there is hate speech and anytime and anywhere there is the expression of the idea that a class of people based on who they are or who they love is less than that is a very poisonous and dangerous thing in the world and in any community."
Community leaders said education and compassion are solutions to the problem.
"I call on all of you: Please, we need a return to civility, we need a return to honoring the democracy of free speech, but free speech that is civil, that is righteous, is just and not used for the purpose of hate or misinformation," said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas.
On Thursday, speakers also addressed the need to expose community members to different cultures. Miriam Soto of Mi
Familia South Bay said that creativity is needed crafting a solution
"Probably do more events where they show all of our diverse community, and show our diversity where we can mingle," Soto said. "That could be festivals, maybe meals, maybe film sessions in the schools where they are free so everyone can access them."
Investigators are still seeking a suspect or suspects in the case. Anyone with information about the case is being urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477. Tips can be called in anonymously.