Instead Of Jail Time For Vandalism, These Teens Were Handed A Unique Sentence

There needs to be more of this.

Five teenage boys in Ashburn, Virginia pleaded guilty this week to entering a historic black school and spray painting racially charged graffiti on the building, including swastikas and "White power." According to the Washington Post, three of the five boys were minorities themselves, and one scrawled "Brown power" on the walls of Ashburn Colored School during the Sept. 30 incident, when racial tensions were high during a tumultuous election season. 

But instead of jail time, a judge decided that the boys were more motivated by teenage recklessness than racism and handed down a unique sentence that included a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, reading books from prominent black, Afghan, and Jewish authors, writing a research paper on hate speech, and listening to an interview with a former student of the Ashburn Colored School, which they defaced.

The school taught the county's African American students when racial segregation was the law. Today it is owned by the Loudoun School for the Gifted. 

The incident had prompted the community, with NAACP's help, to launch a "restoration day" to remove the graffiti. More than $70,000 in donations poured in from all over the world to help restore the building.


Loudoun County prosecutor Alex Rueda, who recommended the sentence, told the Post that they boys could benefit from learning how devastating hate speech can be. 

"It really seemed to be a teachable moment. None of them seemed to appreciate — until all of this blew up in the newspapers — the seriousness of what they had done," Rueda told the paper.

Previously, students at Loudoun School for the Gifted were working hard on restoring the building

The five boys will be reading books by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elie Wiesel, and Toni Morrison, among others. The Post reported that they will write reports on the books, as well as a research paper "explaining the message that swastikas and white power messages on African American schools or houses of worship send to the African American community as well as the broader community, which includes other minority groups."


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