After the race-based vandalism of a historic black schoolhouse, a judge in Loudoun County, Virginia has ordered an unorthodox sentence on the five teenage perpetrators: education.
According to the New York Times, the unidentified boys must read and write a report on one book each month for a year from a list of 35 cultural and diverse selections, including titles like “Night”, an Elie Wiesel novel about the Holocaust, and “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini about an Afghan immigrant. In addition, the boys must attend a trip to the Holocaust Museum and a Smithsonian exhibit on Japanese-American internment camps.
The teens were arrested last October after defacing the Ashburn Colored School with swastikas, the words “WHITE POWER” and other vulgar images. They pleaded guilty to one count of destruction of private property and one count of unlawful entry each. According to a statement from the Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the teens did not completely understand the symbols they were using.
“It became very apparent to us as we reviewed the facts, and their statements to detectives, that these kids truly did not appreciate the significance or the meaning of what they were drawing on the building. It also became obvious to us that their motivations had nothing to do with bigotry or hatred toward any class of people,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman.
“We are seizing the opportunity to treat this as an educational experience for these young men so they may better appreciate the significance of their actions and the impact this type of behavior has on communities and has had throughout history,” Plowman continued.
The school has also been restored after a “community restoration day”, paid for by a GoFundMe page that helped raise over $70,000, drew over 600 volunteers from around the community.