Two Texas school districts have launched an investigation after a video surfaced on social media of high school parents and students displaying bigoted behavior—including making monkey calls—to players of a basketball team.
In a clip from the disheartening video, which was shared online and obtained by The Daily Beast, a student from River Road High School in Amarillo can be seen standing at the free throw line. The crowd makes noise as the student prepares to take a shot, and then loud monkey calls interrupt the cheers.
“This is unacceptable. I think the student section is an amazing student involvement opportunity. But Dalhart has crossed the line tonight,” River Road High School senior Cooper Pierce wrote about the incident on Facebook.
He initially said the game between Dalhart and River Road high schools was going well, but became raucous during the fourth quarter when Dalhart students sent everything off the rails. Separately from the player being taunted with monkey calls, another player of color for River Road was allegedly called the N-word while standing in front of the student section. Pierce also noted that parents from Dalhart called the team “ghetto,” “trashy,” and “other extremely disrespectful names.”
“This is absolutely ridiculous. I believe something needs to be done and immediately,” Pierce wrote. “They shouldn’t get away with the amount of things they did tonight.”
“Not all of Dalhart is like that but it needs to be addressed in the community that it isn’t cool, funny, or ok to do this shit,” a Facebook user responded to the post. “Dalhart has gone down hill. …It’s just gotten worse.”
“We can assume what the parents are teaching or allowing their children to do,” another Facebook user commented. “And the cycle continues.”
A source close to the River Road High School community told The Daily Beast that Dalhart students also dressed up in “costumes” for the basketball game, dubbing it “Thug” night.
The source provided a screenshot from the Dalhart Facebook page that showed students at the game dressed in their perception of “thuggish” attire. White students donned durags, face tattoos, sunglasses, backwards caps, flannel, and bling. In one photo, students posed together with imitation gang signs while sticking out their tongues.
The photo, which has since been deleted from the school’s Facebook page, was captioned, “Looking a little ‘Thug’ish in here tonight!”
In a press release Monday, Dalhart Independent School District Superintendent Jeff Byrd acknowledged that “racially discriminatory and insensitive communications” had been made to River Road players during Friday’s game.
“Dalhart ISD will not condone racist or discriminatory behavior and maintains a strict policy prohibiting discrimination. …It is the district’s expectation that all students, including our student-athletes, communicate respectfully with their opponents and peers from other districts,” the press release stated. “Likewise, faculty, administrators and coaches are to conduct themselves professionally at all times.”
The letter added that the district would launch an investigation into the incident.
“School administrators are reviewing video footage, social media and will interview students and patrons who attended the game to ensure a thorough investigation,” the release read. “Any misconduct by students or staff will be promptly addressed. …It is our goal to provide a safe, diverse, positive and discrimination free environment where all students can thrive.”
When contacted by The Daily Beast, Dalhart did not comment on “Thug” night, specifics of the investigation, or how parents accused of racist behavior would be addressed. Instead, the district referred back to Monday’s press release.
River Road Superintendent Richard Kelley told The Daily Beast that district administrators were familiar with the incident.
“We are concerned about it and how it impacts our students,” Kelley said in a statement. “Right now, both sides are investigating the situation, and we will continue working toward a resolution. We are very proud of how our athletes and coaches handled a very tense situation.”