DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A group of high school students was admonished this week for seemingly using Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s name as a racial insult during a boys’ basketball game.
The incident occurred Monday during a playoff game between Dallas Center-Grimes in West Des Moines, a largely white school, and Perry, a more diverse school north of Des Moines.
Steve Watson, activities director at Dallas Center-Grimes, said roughly a dozen students out of the 120 or so in attendance chanted Trump’s name after their team lost to Perry 57-50. Trump has drawn fire for saying that illegal immigration from Mexico brings rapists and drug dealers into the U.S. and for his proposal to build a wall along the length of the Southern border, among other things.
Watson said the chant was uttered three or four times before administrators stopped the students. He declined to say whether the students were disciplined, citing privacy policies.
“One of our administrators knew right away that it would be offensive because Perry has a high minority population,” Watson said.
Perry coach Ned Menke said he didn’t hear the chants but several of his players did and took offense.
“When you find out about it, your initial reaction was kind of disbelief. Like, ‘Really? That just happened?'” Menke said.
Perry student Kevin Lopez, in a letter to the Perry Chief newspaper, wrote that Monday marked the fourth time the “Trump!” cheer had been used in a negative manner toward the Bluejays.
“It is a chant said to intimidate and discriminate our Latino/Hispanic students and it is a chant that is fueled by racism,” Lopez wrote in his letter to the editor.
Officials from both schools are hoping the incident will end up teaching students a lesson in respect and sportsmanship.
Menke said a group of DCG student leaders went to Perry on Thursday for a meeting about diversity that he described as “positive in tone.”
“We are all moving forward. Both sides. Our kids made a mistake. They know it. Perry understands that it’s not representative of our entire school, community, etc.,” Watson said. “We have to educate our kids.”
The chants haven’t hurt the Bluejays on the court. Perry beat Boone 75-57 on Thursday to reach the sub-state finals and is now a win shy of making the eight-team state championships in Des Moines.
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