A California community is demanding accountability after tortillas were thrown on a basketball court following a high school game in what appeared to be a racist taunt to the losing team, whose players were predominantly Latino.
Coronado High School had narrowly scored a win over Orange Glen High School on Saturday night when people began throwing tortillas at the losing team. Many of the Orange Glen players are from Latino backgrounds, according to NBC San Diego.
The game was a regional championship match for the California Interscholastic Federation league, which condemned the behavior in a statement Sunday. League rules prohibit “disrespectful or demeaning” acts toward another school, CIF said.
“We are therefore working with the administration of both high schools in addressing this matter and upon receipt and review of incident reports from both schools, the CIF will determine the appropriate next steps,” the statement said.
Coronado Unified School District also released a statement about the incident, apologizing to Orange Glen High School for what it described as “reprehensible” and “unsportsmanlike” behavior. The district also said it hopes this can become a “teachable moment” for its students.
“Swift action will be taken to address all those involved, and they will be held accountable,” the statement said. “It is our hope to create opportunities to dialogue with the Orange Glen community in an attempt to repair.”
It is unclear who initiated the tortilla throwing and whether it was a student-led effort. The Coronado Police Department did not publicly identify an instigator but said that an adult male brought the tortillas to the game.
Officers were asked to assist to clear the gym after the incident and are asking anyone with additional information to contact the department.
Lizardo Reynoso, assistant coach for Orange Glen High School, told NBC San Diego that the tortillas were thrown shortly after the school’s players went to give the winning team congratulatory handshakes.
“The head coach and the assistant coach came over to our bench and kind of said some words that were inappropriate and told us that we should take our kids and 'get the F out' because we were a bunch of losers,” Reynoso said.
A parent called the tortilla throwing “racist” and “planned.” One of the players, Christian Martinez, said it was a disappointing end to his last game.
“You don't want to go down with an ‘L’ but also the extra stuff like the tortillas and all the smack talking with the coaches,” Martinez said. “That was really disrespectful.”
The game’s ending scene has also drawn outrage within the community, including from state assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, who tweeted that her own daughter experienced racist taunts as a student athlete in San Diego.
“Bottom line: Coronado High School should be sanctioned by CIF or stripped of their championship,” Gonzalez-Fletcher said. “We should have universal condemnation of this activity. Parents in SD County know that racist taunts against Latino athletes are too commonplace. It’s time to stop it.”