Just before graduation, four Maryland teens were arrested for defacing their school with anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist slurs. Hours later, they were outed after it was discovered that their phones automatically connected to the campus’ wifi network.
The story behind the 2018 hate crime incident at Glenelg High School was revisited by The Wahington Post this week. Although their faces were covered during the act, Seth Taylor, Tyler Curtiss, Joshua Shaffer, and Matthew Lipp were arrested soon after. Taylor and Curtiss spoke to the publication about the incident, insisting it was a prank that got out of hand.
Taylor claims he arrived with his friends the night before their graduation to tag “Class of 2018” with spray paint. Instead, Shaffer tagged “BURTON IS A N****R,” referring to the school’s Principal David Burton who is black. Over 50 swastikas, racial epithets, and other repugnant words were spray-painted on the school’s parking lot, sidewalks and exterior walls, according to The Baltimore Sun.
“It was the worst decision I have ever made in my entire life. What I did there keeps me up at night,” Taylor said during his sentencing. “I have worked hard since that day to show my family, my school, my community and Principal Burton how sorry I am.” All four teens were indicted last July and sentenced between March and April, with consecutive weekend jail sentences, potential three-year probation, and trips to the Holocaust Museum. Some like Taylor met with an African American and took part in diversity training with an African American counselor.
Though they completed all graduation requirements prior to the incident the four did not walk in their graduation ceremony.
As Burton looked back at the incident, he was relieved that something as simple as Wifi cracked the case, but it hasn’t stopped the constant ignorance that happens at the predominantly white high school.
“I know I give up my time, my effort, I give up my life for my students,” he told the Post. “I think the only thing I am asking in return is just a little bit of respect.”