by David Mendez
Threatening graffiti at Redondo Union High School caused a minor scare on Friday, thanks in part to a cancellation-causing threat at Manhattan Beach’s Mira Costa High School.
A photo began making social media rounds around 8 a.m. on Friday, featuring three lines of red spray paint, on the sidewalk near the school’s student union: “YOU ARE ALL [expletive] ANIMALS BEING LED TO THE SLAUGHTER AS YOU DESERVE.”
From there, it took on a life of its own.
An RUHS student posted the image on Snapchat, with a caption reading “bomb threat we gotta dip.” Word spread, conflating the graffiti with the threat called into Manhattan Beach’s Mira Costa High School. Parents began pulling their children out of school.
“You have a lot of parents who have concerns, and some are saying that there’s a bomb threat — there’s nothing there,” said RUHS Principal Dr. Nicole Wesley.
“Even after we correct them, they say ‘Well, better safe than sorry,’” she said.
Redondo Beach police found nothing to connect the spray painted message to MCHS’s threat, the second that’s taken place there within one school week.
By midday, Wesley said that about 300 students had been checked out of school that day by their parents, out of Redondo Union’s nearly 2,700 students.
Still, the school schedule hasn’t been altered or changed in any way — including through a lockdown, which was erroneously reported through social media.
The only way one might be able to tell the difference between today and any other at Redondo Union is increased police presence.
“We want to make sure we’re there for them, and we’re doing all of the investigative work to see if it’s credible or not, but this particular threat is not a specific threat,” said RBPD Chief Keith Kauffman.
According to the district, RBPD showed up to campus nearly immediately — just as the school was looking to call for their assistance.
“Nothing has yet turned up — we take this stuff very seriously, but the detectives are working it, and we’ll do our best on the criminal side,” Kauffman said.
The graffiti was very quickly a non-issue as far as students were concerned.
“After a few hours had gone by, I think no one was really too intimidated,” said Redondo senior Chris Paludi. “People saw police on campus, knew it was being handled, and though people conflated the events, they knew there was probably a difference.”
Reflecting on her school’s duties, Wesley quoted one of her school’s counselors. “It’s our duty to remain calm and act sensibly; if a student sees either their parents or staff members acting with anxiety, they’re going to become anxious,” she said.
Wesley said that, while she understands that the graffiti threat is intimidating, she wants to remind people that it’s a completely different situation than what has happened at Mira Costa. She hopes that parents will look at the facts as they exist, listen to information the school is sending out and “take a deep breath.”
“It comes down to trust and faith that we will do the best that we can for our students.”
Note: This story has been corrected to clarify the threats made to Mira Costa High School.