A disturbing incident unfolded at a high school in Queens, New York on Friday when dozens of students stormed a classroom after finding out that a teacher attended a pro-Israel rally. The school was placed on lockdown after the mob forced the teacher to hide in her classroom, according to a report from the New York Post.
The unrest unfolded at Hillcrest High School shortly after 11 a.m. Friday in what students referred to as a pre-planned after a teacher attended a pro-Israel rally on October 9. The teacher reportedly uploaded a photo showing her at the rally while holding a poster saying, “I stand with Israel” to Facebook.
““The teacher was seen holding a sign of Israel, like supporting it,” a Hillcrest senior told the New York Post. ““A bunch of kids decided to make a group chat, expose her, talk about it, and then talk about starting a riot.”
Dozens of students could be seen rampaging through the halls while waving Palestinian flags and signs with pro-Palestine messages. Several students attempted to gain entry to the teacher’s classroom while school staff held them off.
“Everyone was yelling ‘Free Palestine!’” one student told the New York Post. Others chanted that she “needs to go.”
School administrators and the NYPD were alerted to the plan just before the unrest began, which allowed them to rush the teacher into an office, one staff member told the outlet.
Students uploaded several images of the riot to TikTok and other social media platforms. “When a protest brakes (sic) out because a teacher stands with Israel,” reads a caption on one video. “Hillcrest high school had a riot because a Health teacher was supporting Israel,” said another.
Most comments on the videos applauded the students and called for the teacher to be fired, with one calling her a “cracker a** b**ch.”
Aftermath photos of the riot showed a water fountain that had been torn from a wall and a vandalized bathroom, which students admitted to doing.
The NYPD sent a couple dozen officers to restore order and later dispatched its counterterrorism bureau to investigate a possible threat against the school, according to City Councilman James Gennaro.
“Whether it was one student or multiple students who did or said something, whatever the trigger was, something happened. And I know from my many years on the City Council that the counterterrorism task force is not engaged unless they believe it is potentially a serious situation,” Gennaro said.
The teacher — whose identity has not been revealed over safety concerns — described the incident in a statement to The Post.
““I have been a teacher for 23 years in the New York City public school system — for the last seven at Hillcrest High School. 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,” she said.
“No one should ever feel unsafe at school — students and teachers alike,” she added.