Students Riot at Queens High School After Teacher Attends Pro-Israel Rally
Administrators locked the teacher in an office as dozens of Hillcrest High students stormed through the halls, vandalizing school property.
NEW YORK CITY — A teacher reportedly hid in a locked office as dozens of Hillcrest High School students rioted, demanding she be fired for attending a pro-Israel rally.
Students marched through the halls for nearly two hours Monday morning during a pre-planned protest over the teacher’s Facebook profile picture, which showed her at an Oct. 9 rally holding a sign that read, “I stand with Israel,” the New York Post reports.
“A bunch of kids decided to make a group chat, expose her, talk about it, and then talk about starting a riot,” a student told the Post. “Everyone was yelling ‘Free Palestine!'”
Videos posted to social media showed a water fountain ripped out in a hallway and shattered tiles in a boys’ bathroom.
A group of students attempted to enter the teacher’s classroom but were stopped by school staff. Administrators relocated the teacher to a locked office and the school was placed in a “soft lockdown,” activating a team of staffers and school safety agents trained to handle emergencies.
About 25 New York Police Department officers responded to the school and the counterterrorism bureau was also called to investigate a possible threat against the school, said City Councilman James Gennaro. The teacher, who has taught in the New York City Public Schools system for 23 years and at Hillcrest for the last seven, was escorted out of the building once order was restored, according to Business Insider.
Gennaro, whose district includes Hillcrest, said the Israel-Gaza war gave kids a “convenient excuse to act out.”
“It’s a sad commentary on the rancid hate that exists within the hearts of students — for Jews,” he said.
A student told The Post that rumors spread that the teacher “was abusing Muslims” and had taught “it was okay that children were being killed in Palestine.” Another said some students were able to find the teacher’s personal information, including her address, her phone number, and details about family members. At least three students who organized the protest face superintendent’s suspensions.
NYC Mayor Eric Adams denounced the riot on social media on Saturday.
“The vile show of antisemitism at Hillcrest High School was motivated by ignorance-fueled hatred, plain and simple, and it will not be tolerated in any of our schools, let alone anywhere else in our city,” he wrote. “We are better than this.”
In a statement sent to the Post, the teacher said both students and teachers should never feel unsafe at school.
“I have worked hard to be supportive of our entire student body and an advocate for our community, and was shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me that occurred online and outside my classroom last week,” she wrote. “It’s my hope in the days ahead we can find a way to have meaningful discussions about challenging topics with respect for each other’s diverse perspectives and shared humanity. Unless we can learn to see each other as people we will never be able to create a safe learning community.”
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