AURORA | Local police and the Cherry Creek School District are investigating four Cherry Creek High School students who reportedly made an antisemitic social media post circulated over the weekend.
Three students appeared in a Snapchat post Saturday and Sunday. In the photo, the students have apparently donned costume hats inside a store. A text box below them reads: “Me and the boys bout to exterminate the Jews.”
A fourth student took the photo and made the post, according to Cherry Creek School District spokeswoman Abbe Smith.
Smith said, however, the three students in the photo all said they did not know the photo of them was paired with the antisemitic text.
Given that the nature of post is unclear, Sentinel Colorado is not publishing a screenshot of the Snapchat post at this time.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident after receiving complaints and could file criminal charges, said spokeswoman Deborah Sherman.
Sherman did not specify what charges could be filed. Police officials said they did not consider the statement to “exterminate the Jews” as a credible threat.
The Cherry Creek School District is conducting its own investigation, Smith said. She did not identify the three students nor the individual who took the photo. Smith would not say whether the students had been suspended or expelled, citing student privacy rules.
“Cherry Creek High School does not tolerate hateful speech or actions,” Principal Ryan Silva said in a letter addressing the incident. The letter was sent to parents and students Monday. “Our responsibility is to keep students safe and to provide a place where students of every race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation feel safe, valued and supported.”
It’s unclear exactly when the Snapchat post was first made. The quick-hit social media channel is popular with high school students to send photos and videos paired with a few lines of text to their friends.
The Snapchat sent ripples of concern across the school district — which covers much of Aurora, Centennial, Greenwood Village and part of Englewood — and reached the Anti-Defamation League of The Mountain States.
The group partners with Cherry Creek High School to run an anti-bias program for students called “No Place For Hate.”
“It’s obviously a very troubling situation,” said Scott Levin, ADL’s Regional Director, of the Snapchat. “For Jewish people, for hundreds of years — if not thousands — they’e been the targets of extermination, and it has not been long since the Holocaust.”
He said it was likely that the three students in the photo could have been unaware of the corresponding antisemitic text.
Levin said that context is crucial when interpreting antisemitic slurs, but he said the medium of using Snapchat is especially concerning. Unlike swastika graffiti that can be quickly covered up, he said, social media posts can take on a life of their own online.
Despite the anti-bias workshop the ADL runs at Cherry Creek High School, Levin said it’s extremely challenging to improve the culture of a large school.
“It’s hard work,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is not a magic wand more than anything else is.”