Oak Ridge students speak out against racist heckling at football game

EL DORADO HILLS, Calif. (KTXL) — Hundreds of El Dorado Hills students, joined by their principal and school staff, protested Tuesday after racism emerged at a football game this weekend. end.

Students at Oak Ridge High School walked out at lunchtime holding signs denouncing the heckler who made racist animal noises at players of a rival women’s soccer team on Saturday. Even people living next to the school showed up to support the protest.

“I feel very sorry for them and hope they can see that a majority of Oak Ridge students don’t feel the same as the people who took part in these actions,” said senior Kendall Russell. of Oak Ridge.

The director of women’s soccer at Buchanan Fresno County High School Jasara Gillette said the incident happened while her team was playing Oak Ridge in the Division 1 NorCal Regional Championship.

As the game went into overtime, Gillette said his team was starting to prepare for a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

“My next player that came in, who was Hispanic, she was barking as she went to take her kick,” Gillette explained.

To make matters worse, Gillette said the sounds from the side of the Oak Ridge bleachers continue with their next player, who is from Afro-American descent.

“When the person made monkey, ape, gorilla, I mean, everyone could hear it,” Gillette said.

In fact, the video shared with FOX40’s sister station KSEE captures the sounds when the player hits the ball.

“My players immediately said, ‘Coach, that’s racist!'” Gillette called back. “They knew right away”

Shocked by what they were hearing, Gillette said she approached the Oak Ridge trainer.

“I walked and was pretty much fired,” Gillette said. “I mean, they were like, ‘He’s just a guy in the stands.’ I was like, ‘We’re in the middle of the penalty shootout!’ »

Gillette said she didn’t want the incident to reflect on the Oak Ridge team players as she felt they showed good sportsmanship throughout the game.

A spokesperson for the El Dorado Union High School district told FOX40 that this type of conduct does not represent the values ​​of the school, district or community, and they are investigating the incident to identify who did it. the noises. The district went on to say that this is considered hate speech and the person responsible will be disciplined.

“New discussions about the incident will take place in every Oak Ridge classroom this week. Additionally, school-wide opportunities to reflect on what happened are now planned for the entire class. student body,” said Serena Fuson, EDUSD’s Assistant Superintendent. “We fully intend that the lessons learned as this type of behavior should never go unnoticed or be repeated. We will continue our messaging and our lessons on respect for all and will take steps to do all we can to prevent more incidents like this from happening.

The district said it was also contacting Buchanan High School to issue a formal apology.

Oak Ridge High School Principal Aaron Palm said, “Saturday’s incident disgusts our learning community and embarrasses our entire school. There is no place for this type of individual behavior anywhere in society.

In a statement, a CIF spokesperson responded to the incident, saying in part: “The CIF finds it unacceptable that those who attend a game take away all the hard work that student-athletes have put in to participate in a game. championship.”