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SoCal school district "strongly" condemns video showing students giving Nazi salute and singing Nazi song

Los Angeles — A school district in Southern California condemned a video of high-schoolers giving Nazi salutes and singing a Nazi song after it became public Monday. The video, obtained by the Daily Beast — which posted about 8 seconds of it — shows members of the boys' water polo team at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove in an empty room that administrative officials say was later used for an athletic banquet.

The song, written by German composer Herms Niel during the rise of Hitler, was played to inspire Nazi troops during World War II.

The Garden Grove Unified School District and the school issued a statement saying they "strongly condemn" the video showing students engaging in "offensive, Nazi-related gestures."

The statement said the footage was recorded last November but that administrators hadn't become aware of the video until March. It said the students were unsupervised at the time.

The district said administrators had "addressed the situation with all students and families involved" but  wouldn't disclose if or how the students were disciplined, citing federal education privacy laws.

"I think this is indicative of a change where even some obscure Nazi rhetoric ... has now been mainstreamed on a very fragmented internet," said Brian Levin, the director for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Levin called it "troubling," and said these incidents are becoming more common as anti-Semitism rises online, especially in "darker corners of the internet."

The regional director of the Anti-Defamation League told CBS Los Angeles the district has reached out for help with educating students and staff on issues of bias.

The regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Rabbi Peter Levi, speaking with CBS Los Angeles reporter Jeff Nguyen on August 19, 2019 CBS Los Angeles

Rabbi Peter Levi said, "A swastika, a Nazi salute, a racist joke, a sexist joke, is never funny. We can never excuse it by saying kids are kids. Because what it does is it normalizes hate. It normalizes an extremist idea."

This was the second time a high school in Orange County has dealt with students engaged in Nazi portrayals, CBS L.A. pointed out.

A controversial photo surfaced on social media March 3 showing students at an off-campus party saluting like Nazis around red plastic cups arranged to form a swastika during a game of beer pong. The party was attended by a few dozen teenagers from Newport Harbor, Costa Mesa and Estancia High schools.

The photo touched off a firestorm of criticism and prompted several community meetings. Newport Harbor High even brought in Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss, the stepsister of Anne Frank, to meet with some of the students involved.

On May, a 22-year-old woman was charged with putting up Nazi propaganda posters around Fullerton College and Newport Harbor High School, CBS L.A. adds.

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