Investigation launched into reports of racial taunts during football game at OC high school

ByJessica De Nova and staff KABC logo
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Investigation launched into reports of racial taunts during OC high school football game
An investigation is underway by a high school in San Diego after hearing reports that students attending a football game at San Clemente High in Orange County were subject to racial taunts and slurs.

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (KABC) -- Administrators are investigating claims that students were subjected to racist taunts during a football game at a high school in Orange County.

The Orange County Register reports players and cheerleaders with Lincoln High of San Diego say they were the targets of racial slurs by students and adult fans at San Clemente High on the night of Sept. 13.

The cheerleading squad left early because of the taunts, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In the letter posted on Facebook, Lincoln High School Principal Stephanie Brown said school officials were taking the incident very seriously and that a vice principal planned to interview all students involved to document the incident Monday.

The Capistrano Unified School District also said it's investigating. A spokesman for Capistrano Unified told the Union-Tribune that school officials planned to review footage shot by at least four cameras inside the stadium and interview people who attended the game.

Several parents of San Clemente students stopped at the school Monday, apologizing for the alleged remarks and stating that their children witnessed the incident. While other parents demanded proof of the alleged harassment.

Several San Diego community organizers held a press conference Monday morning outside San Clemente High, where they claim multiple people - including students and adults - heckled Lincoln players and the cheer squad during the game.

"Young people were harassed with racial slurs, they were called the 'n-word' multiple times. Alumni and parents were called the 'n-word' multiple times. Cheerleaders who went to the restroom were called dogs, were asked where are their leashes and told that they would be 'dog walked,'" said Aeiramique Glass-Blake, executive director of Generation Justice, a youth-led activism and organizing group.

"I think we really need to acknowledge where this comes from," Blake added. "The fact that parents and adults egged their children on to continue with this hate rhetoric, the fact that adults were right there saying the same thing, the fact that sheriff's were asked to intervene. They were only on the Lincoln side, the majority of the sheriff's and security were on Lincoln's side, but Lincoln was not protected by them."

VIDEO: Activists speak out after reports of racial taunts during OC high football game

Several activists held a press conference Monday morning outside San Clemente High, where they claim multiple people - including students and adults - heckled Lincoln players and the cheer squad during the game.

Nalani Brown, a student at the school, said she's also been the target of racial slurs on campus in the past but was not involved in the incident in question.

San Clemente Principal Chris Carter issued the following statement, in part, supporting the harassment claims and saying that he takes the allegations seriously and condemns any hateful rhetoric:

"We are shocked and disgusted that such blatant racism would occur in 2019 at an athletic contest for high school students. Athletics are part of the educational system, and all of the anti-discrimination law and policy that applies in the classroom applies on the field and on the premises of an athletic contest. Furthermore, CIF prohibits discrimination and commands respect for all players and personnel.

While we are shocked and disgusted at the harassment itself, we are outraged and the lack of response shown from the San Clemente administration. You may be sure that we, along with our colleagues in the NAACP Orange County Branch, will be pursuing all avenues to see that this sort of harassment does not occur again.

Clovis Honore, president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP, posted a letter on the NAACP website titled "Racial harassment has no place in high school athletics'' that was sent to Orange County school officials.

The NAACP branch demanded several changes, including bias training for staff, the designation of an administrative contact for each opposing team to report such incidents and a public announcement demanding that respect be shown to everyone at games.

Lincoln's head coach, David Dunn, told the Union-Tribune that players on the field didn't hear any of the comments but said they heard about it at halftime from the drill team and cheerleaders.

"There were taunts from the stands. The girls were told 'they should be on leashes,''' Dunn told the newspaper. "I was upset because it affected the young ladies. These are 14-, 15-year-old girls. There is no place for it. There was a lack of common decency and respect.''

There weren't any racial comments made by San Clemente players or coaches, Dunn told the newspaper.

According to state education data, Lincoln High's enrollment in 2018-19 was 19 percent African American, 70 percent Hispanic and 3 percent white. San Clemente High was 62.6 percent white.

Officials at both schools asked anyone with specific details or cell phone videos or photographs to share that information with the school as officials try to identify individuals who were involved.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this story.