Hate crime students ratted out by their own phones

This is a disturbing story, but one with a grimly humorous twist at the end. It deals with an incident of racist and antisemitic graffiti being sprayed all over a high school, this time at Glenelg High School, in Howard County, Maryland. The incident took place one year ago, the night before graduation in 2018, but now that the full investigation is complete, more details have emerged.


Unlike some of the fake hate crime hoaxes we’ve seen in the past, this one was very real. Four white seniors decided to pull a “senior prank” by taking cans of black spray paint and tagging the school with more than one hundred samples of their “art” which included swastikas, the n-word and more. Knowing there were security cameras on the premises, the boys wore masks over their faces. But they forgot one important detail.

Do you have your cell phone set up to automatically log into your home or office wi-fi? The school had one of those wi-fi systems also. (Washington Post)

Eventually they were told: The school’s WiFi system requires students to use individual IDs to get online. After they log in once, their phones automatically connect whenever they are on campus.

At 11:35 p.m. on May 23, the students’ IDs began auto-connecting to the WiFi. It took only a few clicks to find out exactly who was beneath those T-shirt masks.

“You have the right to remain silent,” an officer said to Seth before long. “Anything you say or do . . . ”

So these geniuses showed up shortly before midnight to go on a graffiti spree without remembering that their phones were all set to automatically log in to the school’s wi-fi system to save on data when they got within range. And each student had to have their own account to log in. At that time of night, they were the only ones on the property so it wasn’t going to require Sherlock Holmes to break this case.


Their excuse for how this happened is also less than convincing. The boys claim that they only intended to tag “Class of 2018,” which they did. But then things “got out of hand.” The very next tag declared that the principal is a (n-word). Then came the swastikas, the slurs about gays and all the rest. More than 100 tags that couldn’t all be cleaned up before the graduation ceremonies.

How does something like that happen “by accident” or just “getting out of hand?” The answer is that it doesn’t. All of those words were already in those boys’ brains, simmering and waiting for a chance to get out. And the night before graduation the chance arrived. I’m sure they did experience regret after the fact, but it was regret over having been caught and seeing the course of their lives taking a drastic downturn just as they should have been graduating and launching into their adult lives. And frankly, they deserve everything that’s coming to them.

The school is just fortunate that these kids’ phones were smarter than they were.

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Jazz Shaw 3:01 PM on September 21, 2023