Unusual 'Sentence' for Teens Who Defaced Black School Is Exactly What They Need

Ashburn Colored School
Ashburn Old School Rehabilitation/Facebook

So, this actually seems like a pretty powerful punishment for the crime: After a group of teens was convicted of defacing a historic black school with racist and anti-Semitic markings, their sentencing includes reading and reporting on literature from different backgrounds, writing a research paper, and visiting the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Honestly? This sounds good to us.

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As reported by the Washington Post, the five teens -- who are all 16 or 17, and three of whom are minorities -- graffitied the Ashburn Colored School in Virginia in September. The school was once a place for black students who couldn't attend white schools before segregation was banned; before the graffiti incident, there had been efforts to restore it and turn it into a museum.

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So after these five punks decided to spray swastikas and messages of both "white power" and "brown power" all over the building, Deputy Commonwealth's attorney Alex Rueda figured it was an act of ignorance and youthful naïveté more than racial hatred -- and therefore decided on a unique sentence for them.

The boys will have to read and report on multiple works from a diverse range of authors, from Elie Wiesel to Toni Morrison to Khaled Hosseini. They'll also have to write a research paper on "the message that swastikas and white power messages on African American schools or houses of worship send to the African American community as well as the broader community." They must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum as well, and they'll need to listen to an interview with a former Ashburn Colored School student.

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We don't hate this idea. These kids' eyes are going to be opened up to some life-changing literature -- and life-changing historical facts. It's a tragedy that many young people are completely ignorant about the Holocaust and other unfathomably dark times in our world. 

It's an interesting "punishment," certainly -- and it'll be interesting to see what comes out of it. 

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