SOQUEL (CBS/AP) – Students at a Santa Cruz County high school have been suspended for suspected scrawling of racist graffiti and joining together in a white supremacy gesture while the senior class picture was being taken, school officials said Friday.

Soquel High School administrators decided late Wednesday to suspend about five students and ban them from the prom, Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Gary Bloom said.

The suspensions came at the end of a school year marred by several racist incidents that included swastika graffiti and students making Hitler salutes.

The suspended students stood together wearing white shirts and bandannas during a senior class photo session in a move Bloom said was clearly intended as a display of white supremacist sentiment. Officials believe each of the students, whom they did not name, is responsible for at least one other racist incident in recent months.

Officials did not believe the students had ties to the broader white power movement in the state but had been exposed to an overall upsurge in racist hate speech across the country, Bloom said.

“They don’t understand the consequences and the implications of their actions and statements,” he said. “We’re not isolated here. And we’re really committed to nipping it in the bud.”

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Soquel High Principal Ken Lawrence-Emanuel sent a letter Thursday to parents and members of the community.

In the letter, he said many students told their teachers they were angry about their school picture being ruined by the “white power kids.”

“The students in attendance understood this was not about freedom to wear what you want,” Lawrence-Emanuel wrote. “This was about having a school where everyone is protected from harassment.”

Students organized a rally Thursday to encourage one another to take a stand against racism, he said.

Some teens at the rally told the Santa Cruz Sentinel they did not believe all the suspensions were meted out fairly, and that at least two of the teens were not tied to any racist movement.

“Some other kids are saying dumb things and throwing Nazi salutes,” Irving Figueroa, 18, told the newspaper. But he said one of the suspended students was of Japanese descent and not in any way a white supremacist.

“It hurts me, it offends me, that they would even say that,” Figueroa said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (51)
  1. LibsRloosers says:

    Whats a matter LIBS where is your tolerance for free speech??? You reap what you sow

  2. DJ says:

    I’ll wager there is a Latino “Mecha” organization on campus. For those who don’t know, Mecha is the student arm of La Raza, the organization that promotes the Mexican takeover of the southwestern USA. Mecha and La Raza promote racist speak and actions.

    1. Redneck says:

      Is that right? Like you RACIST REDNECKS are? lazy to work for minimum wage? then complain about lack of jobs?? get your lazy ass up and work

  3. LOPEZ says:

    White’s can never say or show how they feel (right or wrong in others eyes) only all the other ethnic groups can.

    1. Richard says:

      I have no problem with whites saying what they feel. The fact that some whites have to use hate speech to say it is offensive. Whether you like it or not your parents were and grandparents were products of an open border all of sudden its the mexicans who are the problem. What some of you don’t understand is there was a tiime when the Irish were looked down upon, when the germans were looked down upon, Instead looking at others and claiming that they are the problem how about looking within yourselves and figuring out what your problem is. There are plenty of whites who understand what is happening. They are understand that the power struggle should be about those who don’t have but instead is very much a class power struggle. The rich want those who aren’t rich to have a target to blame their ills on instead placing it at the feet of those who are manipulating society for their own ends.

    2. al says:

      you’re an idiot. There. I’m white and a said what I wanted…

      1. It's always someone says:

        Gosh Al; that was a compelling argument.

    3. Cat Martin says:

      When I was attending the Univ. of Mississippi, someone wrote to the student paper and told a black writer that, if he didn;t like the way things were he should go back to Africa – the fares were cheap. I, as one of the few Native Americans at the Uni wrote and told him the fares to Europe were even cheaper and I suggested he go back where he came from

  4. rocCchic says:

    Not condoning White Supremacist in any way, but kids wear blue and red bandanas and t-shirts all day long and they only get arrested when they do something, not just or the clothes they sport. I wish the punishments were distributed evenly. Black gangsters give us a bad name, just like Hispanic gangsters, Asian gangsters and white supremacists give their groups a bad rap. Shame on society for allowing the disparity of racial profiling. Profile everyone equally!

  5. Wilco says:

    Hey genius commenters, they were suspended for suspected involvement in graffiti involving swastikas, not just for wearing t-shirts. Try reading the whole story.

    1. rocCchic says:

      Hey Genius. “…they are BELIEVED responsible for white supremacist graffiti at the campus in recent months.” They were arrested for how they were dressed and link to the graffiti. I guarantee if they showed up in suits and ties on picture day they would have never been BELIEVED to be link to graffiti!

    2. genomega1 says:

      ‘suspected’ is the key word here.

    3. Bruce A. says:

      So you can be deemed guilty and punishment administered without a hearing? Suspicion is not proof. Being suspended has no less impact on your academic future that does a conviction in a court. But, in court you have to be PROVEN guilty!

      1. gimme a break! says:

        It’s hi school, not a courtroom. A different standard and set of rules apply. If these students feel “wronged” they and their parents can seek redress through the court system. The schools responsibility is to maintain a safe learning environment for EVERYONE.

      2. Cat Martin says:

        Excuse me, I think I’ve been hearing that same complaint from people at Guantanamo. Maybe you should read the Patriot Act again, it covers just this type situation.

  6. Perez says:

    So, its okay for student to wear “Brown Pride” apparel, but something that says “white Pride” is considered racist; it’s hypocrisy at its best. I don’t agree with the swastikas since I’m sure these students don’t even understand the holocaust, but saying you’re proud of your heritage shouldn’t be banned …So lame… The same thing happened out in the valley during Cinco de Mayo; a white student brought an American flag to school and was suspended for offending the other student….. If I’m not mistaken, this is the USA and not Mexico!

    1. The Cold Hard Truth says:

      Dude you need to get on board with the double standard. It is okay for any group OTHER THAN whites to organize, wear clothing, and do or say whatever they like. Whitey must just STFU and say thank you. Were you not paying attention! Duh!

  7. Ron says:

    Racism, of any kind, is NEVER defensable!!! and it’s NOT free speech.

    1. Sam Mallory says:

      So laughter is bad and people like Carlos Mencia, Chris Rock, George Carlin, and many others are not using there right to free speech? Or do we need to watch what we say in such a way that communication should cease?

    2. Bruce A. says:

      Defensible? When has logic ever entered into prejudice? People discriminate for all sorts of reasons. Skin color is pretty low on the totem pole compared to religious bias against non-believers or religious justification to discrimination against women. It is kept below the radar that fully 50% of all marriages in the US are between different races. Racial prejudice is loosing its sting, only kept alive by the stories generated by those who need to profit from it: Politicians and racial “leaders,” who make their living by shaking down business or government.

  8. Bloodhounds says:

    KKK in Santa Cruz? Now that’s scary!

    1. Sam Mallory says:

      almost as scary as the thousands of illegals that live near the boardwalk in plain site. All the Suranos (13) latino gang bangers who have there children enrolled at these same schools. Swastikas are stupid just like blind racism….but heuristic evaluation is natural in humans and in animals yet Santa Cruz and other places like Berkley think they no better hahahaha

      1. DC Corso says:

        *know* better

        Also, what is natural about heuristic evaluation, which is an IT term? Or did you mean “cognitive bias”?

        Neither of which have anything to do with kids getting suspended over graffiti. No matter what it says, someone has to pay for vandalism. If you’re stupid enough to wear a shirt proclaiming whatever was spray-painted on the walls the day before, then either you’re the victim of a large coincidence or just plain dumb. Or quite possibly both.

      2. nick says:

        i’m very curious how thse school employees ‘know’ that some of these kids are involved – do you think for one second that those clowns would not proceed with MORE punishment if they could prove their allegations? you want to know what’s wrong with education in this country? it is NOT funding – it is that small, very very small minded self serving definition that they think schools exist to attach a problem to a student for the rest of their lives – too bad NONE of their loser efforts actually make the same difference POSITIVELY in these kids lives they are so eager to step on.

  9. Ci Note says:


  10. captain america says:

    amazing to see the comments here. swastikas are hate images that incite violence. supremacy groups are not equal to pride groups. obviously you have to differentiate between groups that promote themselves versus groups that hate others.

    the ACLU does not defend or protect hate crimes.

    the posts above are a sad reflection of the ignorance in america. most don’t know the law, don’t know their country’s history, and don’t understand the basic ethics and logic behind restricting hate speech while protecting freedoms. the fact that anyone would join a white supremacy group or paint a hate symbol is proof of ignorance.

    but everyone knows now that santa cruz is a hotbed of ignorance and conservatism. orange county is where you’ll find the open minds these days. california is in a process of inversion.

    1. Nancy says:

      You have GOT to be kidding, Cap’n!!! SANTA CRUZ, CONSERVATIVE???!!! Put down your bong and read article and comments again, sparky…Good God.

    2. Cat Martin says:

      Orange County – Open Mind!!! Dude, what have you been smoking?

  11. captain america says:

    “almost as scary as the thousands of illegals that live near the boardwalk in plain site”

    no, you can’t compare a hate group with illegal residents. that’s completely illogical.

    the KKK = harassment and murder
    illegal immigrants near the boardwalk = helping you keep your standard of living by accepting low wages and no health benefits

    if you want to compare the KKK to another hate group, go ahead. but don’t make hateful statements about people trying to make a living peacefully

    1. oldfart says:

      for all you that think the KKK is bad, try comparing the nortenos, MS13 or any of the numerous black gangs in this country. The KKK would be considered a minor player, compared to the violence committed every day by the above gangs. the nortenos and black gangs actually live of their violence in the way of drug sales, extortion, prostitution and any number of other illegal activities. When is the last time you heard of a KKK shooting either at school or a KKK drive by. it just doesn’t happen,

      The ACLU should be more proactive way more concerned about the mexican and black terrorist gangs. for they are the true haters,

  12. captain america says:

    “Most American born citizens don’t want these 3rd world legal or illegal foreigners in our Country”

    And those citizens should be ashamed of themselves for failing Civics 101.

    Most true Americans know that the only reason they are in America is because their family emigrated to America. If you want to start pointing at foreigners, look in the mirror. If being born in America was a requirement for being in America you wouldn’t be in America.

    1. RealityCheck says:

      Captain America is clearly a resident of Berkeley or whatever other liberal enclave you choose to name. Some of my ancestors arrived in this country prior to the revolution. Others came later and entered through ports of entry like Ellis Island. I did not have any sneak through the desert or from the tundra, eh. You speak of Civics 101, how about America being a nation governed by LAW. Everyone in this country illegally is a FELON. I guess you conveniently missed or chose to ignore that point. Long gone are the days of give me your tire, your hungry… Now there are fully functioning terror cells interspersed throughout the country as well as huge numbers of gang members who are first generation descendants of illegals, so they are US citizens, not to mention large numbers of illegals who daily break innumerable laws and if the heat is on them they simply flee back south of the border until the heat dies down then they come back under another name. Have you ever seen how many aliases persons of hispanic origin have? Let me tell you they are far more than more domestically raised criminals.

      1. DC Corso says:

        So Reality Check, you’re saying that it’s okay to have come to America pre-revolution or perhaps later, from a European nation via Ellis Island (my own ancestors came in the 1700s, Irish fleeing the harsh land grabs by the British and ensuing poverty and Catholics seeking the right to worship as they wished without giving up social freedom), but it’s not okay for people to seek a better life for the same reasons our ancestors came here? Is it the color of the skin that decides this? I’m not arguing that people who live here illegally are breaking the law. I do, however, challenge the thinking that our ancestors were BETTER than those seeking to becoming Americans, simply because they came across as registered foreigners. There are good and bad things about immigration (legal and illegal) — same as there always have been, and always will be. But don’t kid yourself — being a card-carrying member of the Daughters of the Revolution doesn’t make you any better at heart than the person you pay $5 to mow your neatly manicured lawn.

      2. Reality Check says:

        The times are different. That is my argument. The days of “give us your tired, your poor, your hungry, yearning to be free…” are over. And yes, people who became Americans legally are “BETTER” because they did it LEGALLY. They might not be better people. There may even be a Hitler, Stalin or Mao among them, but at least they followed US law. I know what kind of a person I am and focus on making my way in this world by working hard and raising my family to be good, decent, law abiding citizens who understand their civic duty and do not shirk it. Also, I mow my own lawn and clean my own house. So Viva La Raza and bite me.

  13. anibethc says:

    Ignorant racists do not have the place in the community. They must be warned that any actions of illegal terrorism by racists will be reported and criminal prosecution against thees racist gangsters will be taken into account.

    1. genomega1 says:

      but only if they are white males…

  14. zaq says:

    All races on the face of this earth have their own little gang bangers.

    Deal with it!

  15. Bruce A. says:

    GSGal, Are you a freshman in high school? Where do you get indoctrinated with such wrong headed thinking. Dating my self a little bit, I marched in the civil rights unrest of the ’60. Only a very limited left wing view of the world would lead you to make illegal immigration a racial thing.

  16. genomega1 says:

    I really like being lectured to by left wingers that hate Jews and Christians.

    1. DC Corso says:

      What? Who are these left wingers that hate Jews and Christians? I’m not following your logic. (a) Why is everything “right wing” and “left wing” and what does that have to do with kids vandalizing school property? Zaq is right — every race has its thugs. People have the right to think what they want about others, based on whatever their views are. But spray-painting it on school property which is maintained by our tax dollars is breaking the law, no matter what your personal views may be on the words that are painted.

      1. It's true says:

        Thank you DC.

      2. It's true says:

        Thank you DC. Very well put.

  17. Joe z says:

    Tolerance for racism and association with racist groups makes you a racist! But the most potent form of racism is formed by ignorant parents. Seems to be a lot of those in Santa Cruz.

  18. Kevin k says:

    If you think your racism is protected by free speech, than not only are you a coward but also a very ignorant person.

  19. Ken Riley says:

    They are terrorists.
    Probably here illegally.
    Send them back to their home country…..germany.

  20. The Truth says:

    Listen to some of you people!

    Free Speech should ALWAYS be defended regardless of whether YOU like the content or not.

    What people fail to comprehend is that regardless of whether or not you think you will ever use a specific right provided by the Constitution, you should always fight to keep that right as you never know if it will be applicable to you in the future. Even the use of rights that you may not like you should fight to keep. For instance, I absolutely abhor hate speech groups, but I will vehemently fight for their right to free speech.


    Because once we set a precedent by curtailing part of free speech, it then becomes easier in the future to take away more of rights concerning freedom of speech. If you haven’t already done so, reading Orwell’s 1984 or watching the recent movie “V is for Vendetta,” will give you a partial glimpse into why keeping our freedoms is of prime importance.

    Personally, I can not stand the KKK and I hate xenophobic racist simpletons. However, ignorant Americans who can’t fully appreciate and comprehend the freedoms that our ancestors gave their very lives for are even worse.


  21. nick says:

    if they had chosen ANY other skin color to celebrate – those administrators would be bending over backwards to kiss themselves on the butt for promoting ‘diversity’ …

  22. Jadǝ Purǝlica says:

    Free speech would eventually mount to nothing of values if it’s defaming to someone else.

  23. keitha says:

    Ahhh, the beauty of racism… if we could only educate those who don’t have a grasp on the history of racial struggles in this country, we may be able to agree and disagree yet acknowledge each view. People of different races in this country do not socialize enough. We don’t understand each other, and frankly I don’t think most of us want to.

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