A peaceful Monday morning at Hillcrest High School in Queens was disrupted when a group of "radicalized" students rampaged through the halls. The incident occurred shortly after 11 a.m., when a teacher's Facebook profile photo surfaced showing her attending a pro-Israel rally on October 9th in Queens, holding a sign that read "I stand with Israel."
According to sources, the students had planned the protest after discovering the teacher's photo. Senior students organized a group chat to discuss their plans and encourage others to join in, leading to a pre-planned riot.
Videos posted on social media showed hundreds of students chanting, jumping, shouting, and waving Palestinian flags or banners. The students attempted to barge into the teacher's classroom and were barred entry by school staff members. They also vandalized school property, ripping out water fountains and shattering tiles in the boys' bathroom.
This is Hillcrest High School in Queens, NYC.
A Jewish teacher had to hide in her office while the students demanded she be fired for attending a pro-Israel rally.
Hillcrest High School has a 27% reading proficiency.pic.twitter.com/m1thutncHP
— OutKick (@Outkick) November 27, 2023
The chaos and disruption caused the school to go into a two-hour lockdown, with over 25 NYPD officers being called to the scene. The NYPD also tapped its counterterrorism bureau to investigate a possible threat against the school, according to officials.
The teacher, who has requested to remain anonymous for her safety, was forced to hide in a locked office as the students attempted to push their way into her classroom. She later released a statement, stating that she has been a teacher for 23 years and has never experienced such hostility from students.
"I have worked hard to be supportive of our entire student body and an advocate for our community, and was shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me that occurred online and outside my classroom last week,” the teacher said in her statement.
Remember the riot at Hillcrest High School in Queens after a teacher attended a pro-Israel rally? This is the same school, one week prior. Don't let the administration cover it up.pic.twitter.com/0cU9KBQW9Y
— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) November 27, 2023
The hostility towards the teacher went beyond the riot, with students sharing her personal information such as her address, phone number, and family details. Some even made threatening phone calls to her personal phone, causing her to fear for her safety.
The incident has sparked outrage from city officials and community leaders, with some calling it one of the most frightening displays of antisemitism in New York City schools and colleges since the recent violence in Israel and Gaza.
"This is a sad commentary on the rancid hate that exists within the hearts of some students towards Jews,” said Councilman James Gennaro, who represents the district where the school is located.
Councilman Robert Holden also expressed shock at the incident, calling it disturbing that high school students would gang up on a teacher and harass her.
The New York City Department of Education has condemned the incident and is actively working to investigate and take appropriate action against the students involved.
"We are aware of the completely unacceptable incident that occurred at Hillcrest High School last week and our safety team is actively collaborating with the superintendent and principal to fully investigate the matter and protect the safety of both students and staff," a spokesperson for the Department of Education said in a statement.
Mayor Eric Adams also denounced the actions of the students, calling it "vile" and stating that it will not be tolerated in any of our schools.
The school's principal, who is also a Hillcrest graduate, stated that the school is working closely with students and teachers to address the incident and ensure the safety of everyone on campus. The incident has sparked discussions on the importance of respect and understanding of diverse perspectives and backgrounds in creating a safe learning community.