A school district in Missouri is apologizing after a group of white students turned their backs and waved a Donald Trump sign at the beginning of a basketball game when the opposing team’s players who are predominantly black were introduced.
“Members of our student body acted inappropriately and were insensitive toward our opponents,” the district said in a statement on Tuesday. “The Warrensburg R-VI School District does not condone these actions and apologizes to anyone who was offended by the actions of these students. We will do everything we can to keep incidents like this from happening again.”
The snub took place at Warrensburg High School on Monday evening just before players from Center High School were introduced. Video of the incident showed at least 20 students — many dressed in overalls, cowboy hats and camouflage — turning their backs to the basketball court. One person is seen waving a Trump/Pence campaign sign. The video was first posted by Center High School alum Antonia Nunn and has been shared more than 7,000 times.
Since Trump’s win, many states across the country have seen an increase in racially-motivated incidents.
Nunn, 20, who attended the game to support her younger brother who plays on the Center High basketball team, told NBC News that she was uncomfortable and in shock at the game. “For someone to hold up a Trump sign and turn their backs where there was an all-white basketball team and an all-black basketball team, it came off as racist. I thought ‘Are you kidding me?’”
She added that the crowd booed and yelled “oink oink” throughout the game.
Warrensburg Superintendent Scott Patrick told NBC News that he didn’t think the incident was racially motivated and that the school has had a tradition of students turning their back when the opposing team’s players were introduced. “It’s not something that is condoned,” said Patrick. “…I think one of our students who held the Trump/Pence sign probably didn’t think of the ramifications of what they were doing.”
Patrick has also said there will be consequences for the students involved on Monday night but the details of what that would entail were still being ironed out. “We will continue to talk to our students about what we expect from them in the way of behavior at events like these,” he said.
“It’s very painful for some people,” Kelly Wachel Public Relations Director of Center School District said of the actions taken at Monday night’s game, noting the high school is 75 percent African-American. She added, “Part of our feeling is that it takes an incident like this or a wake up call for someone to see how inappropriate this action is.”