(CNN Spanish) – An incident between rival players and fans of basketball teams from two high schools in Southern California has resulted in criticism and the firing of a coach from the Coronado school district. Saturday’s game between Coronado High School and Escondido’s Orange Glen High School ended with unidentified people throwing tortillas at the predominantly Latino team of Orange Glen, witnesses told CNN.
Authorities have not established who specifically started throwing tortillas, reported KUSI-TV, CNN affiliate. Coronado Police have only said that an adult brought the tortillas to the game.
Lizardo Reynoso, Orange Glen’s assistant coach, told CNN that “after the player from the other team hit the basket to win, they were celebrating and all of a sudden the Coronado coaches started talking verbally (sic) with us, very aggressive ». According to Reynoso, they were referred to with insults. “Suddenly we started talking to them, that is not how you win. You win with class and continuity … and they started throwing tortillas at us. And it was at that moment when we knew that it was a very racist act against us, because in our school and many of the players are Mexican or Latino.
Reynoso added that “three or four players” threw tortillas at them from the Coronado bench and also “people who were watching the game.”
In an NFHS Network video obtained by CNN you can see the moment when someone throws tortillas on the court at the end of the game, just when several people are gathered in the place.
Credit: NFHS Network
Several Coronado Police officers came to the scene and the assistants left the gym where the game was taking place shortly after. The police department said in a statement that the actions are “unacceptable” and that the fact is being investigated.
Orange Glen head coach Chris Featherly told KUSI-TV that the rivalry between the two teams has increased as the season progresses. Featherly said he reached a breaking point when Coronado staff approached his bench aggressively. “When his coach decided to say a few words to my staff, my coach and my guys, I didn’t take it lightly,” Featherly said. “I think it was ridiculous for that to happen, I thought it was tasteless and disgusting. It’s completely disrespectful.
Reynoso says that the players “feel sad and humiliated”, but that the school is proud of how they acted after what happened.
Karl Mueller, superintendent of the Coronado Unified School District, rejected the behavior and promised to address the incident.
Coronado won the game 60-57 in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern California Men’s Basketball Division 4-A Regional Championship.
Rejection of civil organizations and dismissal of coach
The San Diego chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Tuesday condemned supporters and players of the Coronado basketball team for what they describe as a racist act.
“Coronado High School players, community members and parents threw tortillas at Orange Glen High School players; they are racist actions that do not represent San Diego or the United States, ”said Francine Maxwell, president of the San Diego chapter of the NAACP it’s a statement: “The unpleasant act of tossing tortillas at a basketball game reveals deep social inequalities fueled by racism.”
Assistant Coach Reynoso told CNN that initially the district had told Orange Glen School members that it was’ a celebratory act, that it was something that was not planned and that they weren’t trying to be racist, but we do know what they were doing.
On Tuesday night, before the tortilla incident, the Coronado school district board approved the dismissal of the district head coach, JD Laaperi for his aggressive behavior that night, something that seems to have irritated spirits, as reported to CNN and also reported by our affiliate.
Adela Rivera, mother of one of the Orange Glen players, told CNN en Español that at the end of the game, Coronado’s coach told the rival team “‘ losers. Rivera also described the fact as racist. “He humiliated them, he bullied them,” said the woman.
Laaperi had spoken on Twitter before the board’s decision. “Unfortunately, a community member brought tortillas and distributed them, something unacceptable and racist in nature. I do not condone this behavior. Coronado High School does not condone this behavior and is already taking appropriate action, ”Laaperi tweeted.
Orange Glen School he also said on Twitter that what happened is a “shame” and that he hopes that the California Interscholastic Federation will address the issue, while sharing messages of support for the school and of rejection of the facts, such as that of the Group of Latino legislators of the State Assembly of California, who stated that what happened is a «blatant example of racism«.
The California Interscholastic Federation reiterated that it prohibits «any discrimination»Against any member of the community and who investigates what happened.
Lilian Serrano, co-director of the Popular University, a community organization that seeks to educate through a Chicano approach, said this is not an isolated event. «For us, who live in Escondido, we know that for many years that school (Orange Glen) has always been called ghetto school, as we say in English. A school where there is contempt (…) because the majority of the students are predominantly Latino, specifically of Mexican descent (sic), ”said Serano.
The community asks for concrete actions to change the situation. “We want real change and we also want the board of directors to not only give us nice words. How can we ensure that tomorrow or next week, when the national spotlights are not in our city, we will see a real change in our schools? ”Serrano concluded.
With information from Jaqueline Hurtado and Krecyté Villarreal