A San Diego high school basketball coach has received the pink slip after his players and team’s fans threw tortillas at the opposing team, which is predominantly Latino.
The incident was caught on video and has since gone viral. On Saturday, Coronado High’s boys’ basketball team beat Orange Glen High School in the CIG Southern California Division 4-A Regional Championship game.
JD Laaperi, was Coronado’s head coach at the time. However, he was fired after a 5-0 vote by the Coronado Unified School Board. The board held an emergency meeting on the issue Tuesday night, ABC News reported.
Following the disgraceful incident, Laaperi issued a statement on Twitter saying, in part, “Unfortunately a community member brought tortillas and distributed them which was unacceptable and racist in nature.”
During the board meeting, several people made public comments slamming the incident.
“None of the players were aware tortillas were brought to the game. The tortillas were brought by someone not associated with the team,” said Wayne McKinney, the team’s captain. “However, the throwing of the tortillas during the scuffle after the game was unsportsmanlike and inexcusable. On behalf of the team, we apologize for that action. I think many people are making Saturday out to be something that it was not.”
Parent Yousef Miller also spoke: “Bringing tortillas was racism, plain and simple. We don’t need to send these kids to jail. The people behind it need to be investigated, and we need to find out who did it. The environment that allowed this to survive is Coronado. There were issues before Saturday.”
CUSD Superintendent Karl Mueller also denounced the incident, saying, “members of our community were involved in an altercation and unsportsmanlike conduct, which included throwing tortillas at our visitors from Orange Glen” as “reprehensible.”
“We cannot allow anyone in our community to be made to feel unwelcome, and we send our deep and sincere apology to the Orange Glen community,” Mueller said in a statement on Sunday.
In a separate statement, the superintendent stated that the district has “initiated immediate action” to address the incident and is working with the Escondido Union High School District to “coordinate experiences which bring students together to facilitate restorative meetings designed to learn and heal from the incident.”
The board says an investigation into the matter is ongoing.
Community activists stepped up demanding the school take action, including the NAACP San Diego Branch, which requested that Coronado share the CIF Title with Orange Glen or be stripped of the regional title, among other measures.
“The distasteful act of tortilla throwing at a basketball game uncovers deep social inequities that are fueled by racism,” the organization said in a statement. “Coronado must stop turning a blind eye to racial microaggressions and, in this case, macroaggressions that continue to traumatize students of color within the district and throughout the county.”
A video of the aftermath of the Coronado Orange Glen championship game clearly shows that players were among the folks who threw tortillas at the Orange Glen players and staff. I’m beyond disappointed. pic.twitter.com/RCIIfEgv4r
— Full-Time Hoops (@FullTimeHoops1) June 20, 2021