Supporters of Andrean High School basketball players yelled "build a wall!" at players from Bishop Noll Institute, a heavily Latino school, during a basketball game on Feb. 26 in Merrillville, Indiana (video below).
The Andrean fans also held up a cardboard cut-out of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, while the Bishop fans responded with "You're a racist!" notes NWI.com. Trump has said he will build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico if he is elected president.
"It was jovial," Andrean parent George Galanos told WRTV. "It was a lot of fun. There was hugging going on between the teams."
"I understand they're kids," said Ashley Howard, who filmed the incident on the Bishop side. "So, you expect them to make mistakes. Maybe they didn't know how far to push the envelope because they are rival schools, but that's what the administration is for and that's where the administration is supposed to step in and say, 'Hey kids, this is not OK.'"
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Both high schools are Catholic, which prompted Diocese of Gary Bishop Donald J. Hying to issue a statement on Feb. 29, reports NWI.com: “The incident continues to be under investigation by school officials and is being taken very seriously. Any actions or words that can be perceived as racist or derogatory to others are antithetical to the Christian faith and will not be tolerated in any of our institutions.”
The diocese also quoted Bishop Principal Craig Stafford: “This is a teachable moment for everyone about responsible speech, social media and sportsmanship. Perhaps [the incident] was an unfortunate byproduct of irresponsible speech in today’s political arena. [We] are proud of our students. We are proud of our diversity. Our diversity is our strength.”
Andrean Principal Rick Piwowarski issued a statement on Feb. 28, reports NWI.com: "As soon as administrators were made aware of such activities, actions were taken to stop such taunts and confiscate items from the student section."