School officials from Nyack High School are speaking out after a racist incident occurred during a varsity game.
On Feb. 9, the Nyack RedHawks faced off against Peal River High School on their home court. Members from the Nyack team were outraged when they witnessed crowd-goers in the Peal River gym making monkey and ape noises as some of Nyack’s Black players prepared to make shots from the foul line.
“It happened three different times,” Harrison Jordan, Nyack’s varsity basketball team captain, told Lohud. “You hear it, but you don’t believe it.”
Another player named Kameron Kukielczak said he was “surprised” when he heard the racist chants from the crowd.
“I wouldn’t think anyone would want to do that during the game, especially to young kids,” he said.
The incident was shared on the RedHawks’ official Twitter account and has amassed over 138 thousand views and 200 retweets.
“Allowing monkey noises to echo through a gymnasium while an African American player shoots free throws sanctions racism and hatred,” the post read. “Pearl River missed the mark to correct abhorrent behavior. Stop the Game. Remove the Offenders. Do Better!”
The RedHawks’ coach, Ethan Smith, also spoke out about the incident.
“For me as a coach, it just felt like this is not a good situation for our players to have to deal with during a high school varsity game,” he told ABC News:
News reports indicate an investigation into the incident has since been launched. Sadly, this isn’t the first time that fans from Pearl River have been accused of making racist chants.
There was mention of a similar incident recently when the Pearl River team hosted the team from Suffern High. Superintendent Marco Pochintesta was notified about the incident, but he claimed that the people responsible for the inappropriate behavior were not identified.
“We absolutely find this behavior deeply disturbing, harmful to all of us, and racist,” Pochintesta said at the time.
Rep. Mondaire Jones called out the incident noting that it is an example of why people should not hide from history but embrace it despite any momentary discomfort.
Nyack Superintendent Eudes Budhai urged the responsible individuals to come forward and participate in the school’s Undoing Racism Workshop. Budhai told ABC News the incident was particularly problematic since it was Black History Month but also an example of why dismantling systemic racism was important.
“This incident, especially disheartening during Black History Month, a time when we unite as a school community to celebrate the achievements of all Black Americans, reveals the need for our own Strategic Plan for Excellence Through Racial Equity and for ongoing work to dismantle systemic racism in schools throughout our county,” Budhai told ABC News. “We thank our community for their outpouring of support and reaffirm our commitment and efforts to achieve excellence through racial equity here in Nyack Public Schools.”