Five teenagers are being accused of vandalism in connection to damage done to an historic building. Ashburn Colored School, located in Loudoun County, Virginia, is a one room building built in the 19th century as a school for African-American children. In early October, the building was spray-painted on three sides. Police have now served juvenile petitions to five teenagers, who face serious juvenile crimes charges in connection to the vandalism.
The 200-year-old building is currently being restored and is unoccupied. The graffiti that was painted on three of the four exterior walls included swastikas and various racist messages. However, there were other messages painted onto the building, including the phrases "I'm awesome" and "I'm with stupid."
Area residents have pressured the Commonwealth Attorney's Office to categorize this incident as a hate crime. However, a county prosecutor has stated that the nature of the graffiti, combined with the fact that the building was unoccupied at the time, makes it inappropriate to label the vandalism as a hate crime. That is good news for the teenagers who stand accused of the crime. The specific juvenile crimes charges include felony destruction of property and a misdemeanor charge of entering a property with intent to damage.
Each of the five teenagers will have the opportunity to present his or her own defense in connection with these juvenile crimes charges. Each may have a unique defense in the matter, depending on how they, their families, and their legal teams decide to move forward. Many young people in Virginia and across the nation make questionable choices that can lead to serious outcomes, as evidenced by this case.
Source: loudountimes.com, "MORE: Five teenage suspects charged with vandalism of historic Ashburn schoolhouse", Crystal Owens|, Oct. 20, 2016