A Connecticut high school principal denounced his students' "Trump! Trump! Trump!" chants at a visiting basketball team from a school with mostly black and Latino students.
"While students' right to free speech and forming educated opinions about politics and current events is a cornerstone of our educational system, the exact point where political opinion converges with disrespect, discrimination or hate speech must be separated," Canton High School Principal Andrew F. DiPippo wrote in a letter to families after the playoff game against Hartford's Classical Magnet School last week.
"We have a reputation as a welcoming community and these students crossed this line with their comments and have damaged our reputation," he said.
Canton officials apologized to Classical, the Hartford Courant reported, adding that seven or eight students chanted Republican President Donald Trump's name as Classical players were at the foul line. But Classical fans who traveled to Canton said that the chants were heard throughout the game, the paper reported, and that Trump signs and Trump-Pence campaign items were seen in the Canton fan section.
After the incident, Canton High officials held a school-wide assembly to discuss it. DiPippo's letter indicated that the chanting students were "spoken to directly," and Canton Schools Superintendent Kevin Case said the incident is under investigation but wouldn't comment if disciplinary action was carried out against the chanting students.
Canton Schools Superintendent Kevin Case said the incident is under investigation. (Image source: YouTube screen cap)
In a separate Courant story, Canton senior Nathan Christopher said the chanting students have been threatened on social media and that the incident has been overblown: "I understand how the chant could be interpreted, but at the end of the day we are not racist toward anyone."
Hartford school district's acting Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez called the chants "unacceptable conduct," the Courant reported, adding she said officials "will take every step necessary to ensure that our students and families are protected from physical harm and emotional harassment."
Case told the paper the "Trump! Trump! Trump!" chants "could be perceived as offensive, and anything that is perceived as disrespectful or hateful we don't tolerate."
Classical won the game 48-47.
(H/T: Todd Starnes)