ENCINO, Calif.—The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is investigating what they are calling an alleged ‘hate incident’ at two Armenian private schools after officials say their campuses were vandalized with Turkish flags overnight.
School officials from AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School and Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School in the San Fernando Valley notified families of the incident Tuesday morning.
In pictures that have been widely circulated in the Armenian community on social media, Turkish flags are seen scattered about on campus, hanging on the entrance gates to the school and on stairways that lead to classrooms and offices. At Ferrahian in Encino, the Turkish flags were hanging feet away from the steps leading to the church on-site.
Meantime at AGBU in Canoga Park, officials say classes are still in session, but campus is on lockdown until further notice. Parents are being asked to park off-campus and walk to the main security gate during pick-up and drop-off. They can also expect to see police on-campus during drop-off Wednesday morning. One father told the Armenian Weekly that some parents want to pick up their children early from school.
In a statement to school families, Principal Sossi Shanlian explained classes are still in session at Ferrahian but that the school is taking extra precaution to ensure the safety of its student body. The Armenian Weekly has reached out to Ferrahian, but since the investigation is ongoing, school officials have declined to comment.
The Armenian community is outraged, both by these targeted acts against their schools and churches and law enforcement’s use of the word ‘incident’ instead of ‘crime.’ AGBU school officials say police are labeling it as an incident because a crime was not committed. “They did not trespass or leave any note or any indication of a threat,” read the statement.
“Bigotry and hatred is alive and thriving when Grey Wolves, pro-Erdogan, anti-democracy goons get their way,” writes Tsoghig Hekimian on Facebook. The City Clerk of Glendale Ardashes Kassakhian writes, “These campuses are places where children from kindergarten to high school attend classes, play with friends, eat their lunches, pray in the chapel, and learn how to be productive and law abiding citizens. They also learn about their history, which includes the dark chapter known to all as the Armenian Genocide…”
The red and white Turkish flags have since come down, and in their place, students have draped their school—their second home—with the tri-colors of the Armenian flag.