SPENCER, Iowa — Some student spectators at a predominantly white school in northwest Iowa yelled racist chants including “go back to where you came from” at a visiting rival boys’ basketball team, according to authorities.
The chants and slogans at the Jan. 19 game at Spencer High School included some fans shouting “lock your car doors” and shaking keys at the Storm Lake Tornadoes. The chant was a possible reference to an incident last year when a Storm Lake student was accused of stealing a car. Other students attending the game chanted, “USA.” Some wore red, white and blue attire.
Storm Lake Superintendent Carl Turner said the district has 2,400 students, and 84 percent are non-Caucasian. The Spencer district has 1,900 students and is predominantly white. Iowa’s population is 88 percent white.
Spencer Superintendent Terry Hemann told The Des Moines Register that administrators have disciplined the Spencer students involved, but he declined to provide details.
“This isn’t what Spencer or Spencer schools are about. It’s not what we believe in,” Hemann said. “We had some students that made some poor decisions and we’re using this as a learning opportunity and making better choices at the next opportunity.”
A similar situation occurred during a football game last October between the rival schools. Hemann said the districts responded with an exchange initiative for students from both schools to better understand each other. Hemann said the district will continue these efforts to teach students about respect.
Turner said the chanting isn’t anything new for Storm Lake athletes.
“We’re different than other communities in northwest Iowa and most communities in Iowa,” Turner said. “Because we’re different, people jump to conclusions about us, but all I ask people is, give us a chance before you pass judgment.”