Gurnee police investigating racist graffiti at Warren campuses

Updated 11/11/2016 6:52 PM

Gurnee police say an investigation continues into what's grown to at least four instances of racist graffiti scrawled on bathroom stalls at Warren Township High School's two campuses.

John Ahlgrim, superintendent of Gurnee-based Warren District 121, said officials were contending with student reaction to "White's Only" graffiti found on a women's bathroom stall at the Almond campus when additional "copycat" messages were discovered Thursday afternoon at the freshman-sophomore O'Plaine Road building.


Deputy Police Chief Willie Meyer confirmed the investigation of the graffiti Friday. He said he was unable to provide details about the probe.

Ahlgrim said the racist graffiti at O'Plaine was found written on stalls in one women's restroom and two men's bathrooms. He said the two schools have cameras near the restrooms and that Warren deans are assisting police in the investigation.

Friday afternoon, Black Lives Matter Lake County chapter member Clyde McLemore brought six protesters to a sidewalk near the Almond Road building.

"With this 'white only' on the bathroom, it was very disgraceful," McLemore said.

Warren junior Jackie Sandoval, 17, chatted briefly with McLemore when the car she was riding in pulled over on Almond Road near Friday's small gathering. She said she and other students are trying to organize a club that would create events and other ways to highlight Warren's diversity.

"We are trying to celebrate our diversity," Sandoval said. "We are trying to bring awareness that this isn't a place for racism. This is a place for education and to celebrate one another and to learn from one another."

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The racist graffiti surfaced Wednesday when it was discovered by a student at the Almond Road campus for juniors and seniors who immediately reported it to a campus employee. It was written in black marker with a grammatically incorrect apostrophe.

In response, some minority students organized what became a large indoor group meeting and a protest outside Thursday. Ahlgrim said 150 to 200 students jammed a hallway near the Almond building's library to discuss diversity and respect with Principal Patrick Keeley.

Some of the student protesters blamed the election of Donald Trump as president for the racially charged graffiti. Ahlgrim alluded to the election in a letter to parents sent soon after the graffiti was discovered.

Of Warren's 4,267 students, about 46 percent are white, 29 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Asian and 10 percent black, according to the most recent 2015-16 Illinois State Board of Education report card.

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