MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Five more students have been suspended in connection with racist Twitter rants at a high school basketball game in Westchester County, and allegations were mounting Friday that players used racial slurs too.
As CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, a total of eight students have now been suspended following the tweets that appeared after Mount Vernon High School defeated Mahopac High School on Feb. 27. Students and school officials said scuffles erupted in the stands and the racial slurs were posted afterward.
On Friday evening, both schools said they are aggressively looking into what exactly happened after the game last week. Meanwhile, a YouTube video taken in the stands showed the brief scuffle breaking out between two Mahopac and Mount Vernon adult fans.
“Some action needs to be taken that sends a message that this wasn’t business as usual,” said City of Mount Vernon Schools Interim Supt. Judith Johnson.
Johnson has issued a call for action to be taken against Mahopac’s team for what happened during and after the game.
“Some kids are resigned to these epithets, and tend to think that’s America,” Johnson said. “And the reason why we won’t sweep it under the rug is because it’s not America.”
The Mount Vernon basketball coach also spoke out against the behavior.
“The sportsmanship fell to an all-time low, and the racial hatred that we all felt was disgusting,” said Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimino.
The eight suspensions at Mahopac followed the tweets, some of which refer to the Mount Vernon players are referred to as monkeys. One post displays a Confederate flag, and there are claims someone pulled out an actual flag at the game.
One Twitter user even mocked single parents, posting, “tough loss boys, but at least we can talk to our dads about it.”
Now, Johnson has also detailed allegations that Mahopac players used racial slurs during and after the game. She read written testimony from one Mount Vernon player.
“As we were shaking hands at the end of the game, one player did not shake our hand, and stated that ‘none of you ugly gorillas deserve it.’”
Mahopac School officials confirmed they are actively looking into the claims and have interviewed players and coaches.
The district also confirmed one of their students did wave a Confederate flag during the game, but that student has not been identified.
Mahopac Central School District Supt. Thomas Manko was out of town Friday and could not comment. But he has called on Mt. Vernon officials to investigate behavior by their fans and students.
Online video from that night showed what appears to be an adult fan taunting a Mahopac student.
“If you expect children to learn, you have to model the behavior for them,” Manko said Wednesday.
But Manko did tell Champion the students who were suspended will have to undergo sensitivity training as part of their punishment.
Mount Vernon officials say they have looked into allegations and determined no students were involved.
Johnson did admit that behavior by Mahopac fans might have riled up some spectators.
“It’s provocative to show up at a game dressed totally in white, and when it’s time to introduce the basketball team, 400 people stand up and turn their backs on the basketball team,” she said.
Mount Vernon students also want action taken against the Mahopac team.
“We’re not monkeys – like, we’re not the things that they called us,” said Mount Vernon senior Samaraona Grubbs, “and we’re human beings.”
Mahopac and Mount Vernon leaders met with New York State education representatives on Thursday. One outcome from the meeting was that school boards and student governments from both schools agreed to meet and make sure nothing similar happens again.
Meanwhile, Mount Vernon officials said they are getting legal help to prove Mahopac violated state education laws.
Mahopac officials are adamant in saying the student tweets and allegations do not reflect the culture of the school, and are not condoned.
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