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'Are we next' spray-painted outside Wellesley Middle School

Police are investigating the source of the spray-painted message found on the sidewalk in front of the school.
wellesley middle school, wellesley, are we next, graffiti
"This is what my girls saw when they walked into middle school this morning," one parent wrote on Twitter. Photo: Kelley Tuthill/Twitter

Wellesley police are investigating after a spray-painted message showed up on a Wellesley Middle School sidewalk Tuesday morning.

The bright orange spray paint that greeted students, staff and parents Tuesday morning read, “ARE WE NEXT,” taken by many to be a reference to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed.

“This is what my girls saw when they walked into middle school this morning,” Kelly Tuthill wrote on Twitter, where she shared an image of the graffiti. “Kids everywhere deserve to feel safe at school.”

Wellesley Middle School officials are working with local police to look into the incident.

“On March 6, 2018, at 7:38 a.m. officers were dispatched to the Wellesley Middle School to investigate a report of vandalism on the sidewalk,” the Wellesley Police Department said in a email. “The graffiti read, ‘Are we next,’ and occurred overnight. The Wellesley Police Department and Wellesley Public Schools are working together to investigate the origin of the graffiti.”

Wellesley Middle School Principal Mark Ito addressed the graffiti in an email to staff and the school's community, as well.

“We are working with our facilities department to remove it and engaging our WPD, as we would for any suspicious act,” he wrote, according to the Boston Globe. “Right now, we are settling in for our day. We are communicating with staff and students, and ensuring them of their safety.”

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, President Donald Trump said he supported arming teachers. The Wellesley Teachers Association and other local educators have spoken out against that suggestion.

“Arming educators is a terrible idea,” Wellesley Superintendent of Schools David Lussier said on Twitter. “More guns in schools is not the answer.”

The Wellesley School Committee is planning to give an update on school security on March 13, according to the local blog The Swellesley Report. That meeting is scheduled a day ahead of a national protest in which students across the country are expected to walk out of their schools in support of stronger gun laws.