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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teen vandals are ordered to read books

The Ashburn Colored School during an October event, after the building was vandalized. Photo: Sharon Knipmeyer/Loudoun School for the Gifted

Five teen-agers who defaced a historic black schoolhouse in Virginia last year have been sentenced to read one book a month for the 12 months, reports the New York Times. The five vandals — two are white, three are minorities — spray-painted swastikas, dinosaurs, sexual images and “white power” and “brown power” on the building. One said he didn’t know what a swastika means.

Judge Avelina Jacob authorized a list of 35 books, including Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust novel, Night, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Khaled Hossein’s Kite Runner, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran and Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel.

The teens must write a report on each book they read, plus a research paper on the messages sent by “swastikas and white power messages on African American schools or houses of worship,” said the Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney’s office. “The research paper must reference and include the history of the KKK lynchings, the Nazi ‘final solution,’ the Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Brown v. Board of Education court decisions.”

They must listen to a recorded interview of Yvonne Neal, describing her experiences at the Ashburn Colored School, which she attended 1938 until 1945.

The teens also must visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History’s exhibit on Japanese-American internment camps in the United States.

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