Cheerleaders hit with racial slurs, told they ‘should be on leashes,’ Calif. school says

Screengrab from KSWB video

Fans of the opposing team taunted cheerleaders from a California high school Friday with racial slurs and told them they “should be on leashes,” The San Diego Union Tribune reports.

Administrators at Lincoln High School in San Diego reported the incidents Sunday on Facebook and pledged to investigate.

“We expect our students and staff to stand up to racism and hatred when they see it, and it’s up to us responsible adults in the community to do the same,” wrote Principal Stephanie Brown on Facebook.

Educators at San Clemente High School in Orange County, which faced Lincoln High School in Friday’s football game, also condemned the incidents, KSWB reported.

“We do not condone racist speech or actions at our school, and we unreservedly condemn hateful rhetoric that targets any person or group,” said Principal Chris Carter, according to the station.

School officials are working with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to investigate the incidents, KNSD reported.

David Dunn, head coach of the Lincoln High School team, said the slurs came from the stands, not opposing coaches or players, The San Diego Union Tribune reported. The taunts, directed mostly at the cheerleaders, could not be heard by players on the field, he said.

“The girls were told ‘they should be on leashes,’” Dunn said, according to the publication. “I was upset because it affected the young ladies. These are 14-, 15-year-old girls. There is no place for it. There was a lack of common decency and respect.”

In a letter posted online, Clovis Honoré, president of the NAACP San Diego Branch, says the incidents involved both teens and adults.

“During the game, multiple spectators heckled the Lincoln players and cheer squad, repeatedly using racial slurs include the ‘n-word,’” Honoré wrote. “Furthermore, cheer squad members were racially harassed in restrooms, again including the ‘n-word.’”

Honoré called on San Clemente High School to provide implicit bias training for coaches, warn fans against future racist taunts and have administrators at each game to immediately deal with any incidents.

The NAACP may also seek forfeiture of the game and suspension of the school’s athletic program, among other actions, he warned.

“We are shocked and disgusted that such blatant racism would occur in 2019 at an athletic contest for high school students,” Honoré wrote.

The Lincoln High School Hornets lost the non-conference game 29-0, The San Diego Union Tribune reported..

A Public School Review report on Lincoln High School says 99 percent of the 1,500 students at the school are minorities, mostly Latinos.

At San Clemente High School, 64 percent of the 3,000 students are white, with less than 1 percent identifying as African American, KNSD reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.