BRENTWOOD (KDKA) – Officials at Brentwood High School are further investigating claims of racial slurs during a basketball game Friday night.
Two basketball players from Monessen say what they saw and heard last Friday at Brentwood High School is something they’ve seen many times before.
“Cotton pickers – something we got last year also,” Chavis Rawlins said. “Then they had monkey posters and stuff.”
“It made me angry, but I just don’t understand racism nowadays because from what I learned in school, it’s from the past,” Justice Rawlins, also a Monessen basketball player, said.
Many attending the game say not only were racial slurs thrown around, two students were dressed in a banana costume.
“They just ran around – and they ran right past us and said, ‘Hey monkeys!’” Justice Rawlins said.
Monessen’s basketball team went to the state finals last year. Their coach, Joe Salvino, said their maturity allowed them to finish the game.
“I think they handled it excellently, I mean, because it could have gotten nasty, but we held our composure and did what we had to do,” Salvino said.
Monessen School District Supt. Linda Marcolini says the school is contacting the NAACP and filing a complaint with the WPIAL.
“We just want a public apology,” she said.
Marcolini said she spoke to the superintendent in Brentwood because she wanted to meet with him, but according to her, he says as far as he’s concerned, the matter has been taken care of.
Brentwood’s superintendent said three students have already been punished, and he’s reviewing video from the game to determine who else should be disciplined.
The school released a statement regarding the issue Wednesday afternoon:
There was an incident at the boys’ basketball game Friday, February 3 at Brentwood High School between Brentwood and Monessen High School, where it has been alleged that a number of troubling comments or actions took place directed against Monessen players and fans.
District officials and security were present at the basketball game. These officials did not hear any racist or similarly derogatory remarks make towards Monessen players or their fans. As important, no such comments were reported to District officials or security during the game; otherwise District officials would have taken swift, corrective action.
After the game, the District conducted an investigation and spoke to a number of District students and staff who attended the game. Nothing has been revealed to indicate racist comments were made.
It seems students dressing in costume for athletic events is not uncommon in high schools and colleges. Two students did dress in banana costumes for the Monessen game. The District understands that these students have dressed like this for past athletic contests without incident. When these students at Friday’s game, though, ran past the section where Monessen fans were seated, causing agitation and disruption, District officials immediately ejected the students from the game.
District officials have reviewed game tapes and have seen no other activity that confirms the allegations made. The District is continuing to investigate the matter to determine if any objectionable conduct took place. The District is also reviewing procedures regarding student and fan conduct at games. Brentwood Borough School District, its Directors, Administrators, and Students regret what took place at the game and the District will maintain action to ensure that any similar behavior does not occur again.
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