Hate crime charge filed after swastikas are found at Boystown grade school

Jarrod Barnes and the graffiti he is accused of scrawling on the Nettelhorst School “equality” sign. (Chicago Police Department, Provided)

CHICAGO — A South Loop man is charged with felony hate crime for allegedly drawing swastikas on an “equality” sign posted outside a Boystown elementary school.

Jarrod Barnes, 43, was heard saying, “teaching kids to be faggets [sic],” according to a Chicago police report documenting his arrest.

Officers responded to Nettlehorst Elementary School, 3252 North Broadway, on Monday afternoon to investigate the incident. As they were waiting for an evidence technician to arrive, Barnes appeared across the street, and a witness to the defacement pointed him out to police, the report said. Officers took him into custody.

The cops allegedly found four Sharpie markers in his possession—one in his pants and three in his backpack.

Prosecutors charged Barnes with hate crime at a school and institutional vandalism of a school and asked Judge David Kelly to detain Barnes as a public safety risk, adding that two witnesses recorded video of him.

Kelly denied the detention petition. Instead, the judge ordered Barnes to observe a nighttime curfew and stay away from the school. He also instructed Barnes to surrender any weapons and his firearm owner’s ID card to law enforcement, according to entries in the court file.

Barnes will not be going home right away. He had an outstanding arrest warrant at the time of the incident for failing to appear in court for a pending misdemeanor battery case.

In that case, two employees at Starbucks, 155 North Wabash, told police that Barnes spit on their arms on December 26. Barnes failed to appear in court on March 5, prompting Judge Peter Gonzalez to order the clerk to send him a postcard reminder. Gonzalez signed the arrest warrant when Barnes didn’t show up on April 5, court records show.

Ald. Bennett Lawson (44th) said on Twitter that he is “horrified” by the graffiti.

“We have no tolerance for anti-semitic, homophobic, or hateful incidents of any kind, and I hope the Jewish community in the 44th Ward and across our city know that I stand with them and their right to live without fear in our neighborhood,” the freshman alderman wrote.

Nettelhorst parents received the following email from a school administrator on Monday:

One of our top priorities is creating a safe, supportive, and welcoming school environment for all of our students and staff, which is why we must inform you of an incident impacting our school today. This afternoon, an individual who is not a member of our school community was outside on school grounds, defacing school property with antisemitic symbols and voicing homophobic statements. Out of an abundance of caution, we immediately contacted the CPS Office of Safety and Security, the Chicago Police Department (CPD), and the City of Chicago’s Graffiti Removal Service for support. The individual left the school property shortly thereafter and was later taken into custody by CPD. This individual did not interact with any students or make any threats against our school, and everyone is safe.

I want to make it extremely clear that bias-based behavior has no place at our school and will not be tolerated. We will be emphasizing this at school, and we ask that you remind your child of this at home as well. If your child witnessed this incident and voices any fears or concerns to you, please let us know so we can support them. We will continue striving to create a welcoming school culture that enables all students to reach their full potential. If you have any questions, please contact me directly.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com