Saratoga Police investigating white supremacist Instagram account targeting students

January 12, 2017 08:33 AM

SARATOGA SPRINGS – “I've heard about it from my friends, but I'm surprised that something like this would happen here,” said Saratoga Springs High School student Caterina Pacifico.

The 16-year-old said school has been buzzing about a suspicious Instagram account that targets students and uses hate speech.

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Saratoga Springs Police Lt. Bob Jillson said police are working with the school district to investigate the matter.

“The acronym that they used, SHS4R, has a lot of ties between the young student population over there,” Jillson said.  

A post on the page said SHS4R, stands for "Saratoga High School Fourth Reich." The Fourth Reich is a term associated with Nazi Germany. There is also a link to what appears to be a white nationalist website.

Saratoga Springs City School District Superintendent Michael Piccirillo said in a statement that the creator invited students to follow the page, which doesn't represent the district's values.

Jillson said about 30 or so students following the account told investigators they didn't know what it stood for.

“They don't know what the Fourth Reich is,” Jillson said. “Our concern is with them blindly following something. They are still kids. They're children."

Police say it's so difficult to figure out who created the Instagram account because it's not tied to a specific person and the name is so misleading.

Caterina and her father, David, moved to Saratoga from Germany a year ago. David, who is originally from Italy, said these things are becoming common worldwide and kids should be educated about them.

“Be open to discuss everything with the kids,” David Pacifico said. “And nevertheless, tell them straight that there is a lot of junk distributed on the web."

Jillson also urges parents to stay informed.

“Keep communicating with your child and educate yourself,” he said. “Know what's out there."

“These Instagram pages are so sketchy,” Caterina added. “There are so many out there."

In that statement, Piccirillo also said the Instagram account inappropriately uses the high school's name.

Even though school officials are not sure who created it, Piccirillo said any student engaging in speech or acts violating the code of conduct could be disciplined or face criminal prosecution.


Nia Hamm

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