A California police department has launched an investigation after "offensive and racist" graffiti images were found spray painted Monday morning at a school with a "large Latino population," police said.
"TRUMP 2016" and "Build the WALL HIGHER" were among some of the messages found sprawled across the campus of Cali Calmecac Language Academy, according to photographs taken before a janitor covered them up with fresh paint, according to police and the school principal.
The "offensive and disrespectful graffiti" appeared to "have been directed at the large Latino population of that school," Windsor Police Chief Carlos Basurto said in a statement on Tuesday.
"It is extremely upsetting that the children had to be subjected to such hatred and bigotry," Basurto said. "Whether this was a prank or not does not diminish its effect on the emotions of the children of that school or the people of this community."
Basurto said his department "will continue to investigate this crime and attempt to identify those responsible." He added that the alleged crime was "unjustifiable" and that "this type of behavior and thinking is not indicative" of the town of Windsor.
The school's principal, Jeanne Acuña, told ABC News today that when she first saw the graffiti she "very angry" and "really violated."
"Our school is a bilingual immersion school with Spanish as the second language," she said. "We have 1,112 students on campus, 75 percent of which are Latino. It just really felt like we were being targeted."
Acuña added, "It felt as though someone had just come into our school family's house and violated the sanctity of the school."
Though janitors were able to "cover up most of the offensive messages" before the official school day started, a few staff, students and parents who came to the school earlier in the morning did see the graffiti, according to Acuña.
The principal said the messages provoked "a flurry of reactions" from the school community and sparked lot of dialogue about the "inflammatory rhetoric" being used in the presidential campaign this year.
"Even our youngest of children who have no way of knowing all the ramifications of the inflammatory speech being used are feeling the fear," Acuña said. "I just talked to one of our kindergartners the other day and they told me they're kind of afraid that their family might be taken away."
Despite such "heartbreaking" fears, the principal said she has been encouraged by the "surprising and overwhelming outpouring of support and kindness from the community."
"Just the other day, a woman outside the school community organized people in our community to greet students at the door with signs of love," she said. "They held signs like 'Love the Kids at Cali' and 'Have a Good Day!' and they passed out heart stickers. It really meant a lot."
Acuña added, "In a way, this horrible thing has actually brought our community closer together, and it just proves the positive side always wins.