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August 25, 2021

The Republican Armpit Of Riverside County Does It Again

From the Press-Enterprise:

Minority Moreno Valley cheerleaders hear racial slurs, monkey noises at Temecula Valley High football game

PUBLISHED: August 24, 2021 at 3:13 p.m. | UPDATED: August 24, 2021 at 7:42 p.m.

Minority cheerleaders from Moreno Valley were called racial slurs by Temecula students and heard monkey noises as they walked by during a Friday, Aug. 20, high school football game, their coach said.

Valley View High School’s team was playing at Temecula Valley High School when the visiting cheerleaders became “victims of racial attacks,” were called “derogatory and racial slurs, and touched unwelcomely” by the home team students, said Kenya Williams, a Valley View counselor and cheerleading coach.

“In all my years coaching, I have NEVER experienced such levels of disrespect and hate from an opposing school/team,” wrote Williams in a Facebook post that night.

In an interview Tuesday, Aug. 24, Williams detailed what happened during the halftime show.

Williams said 18 varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders were invited to the Temecula Valley High sideline by their cheer captains to watch the performance, which is “customary” in football games. But as soon as the girls approached the home team’s side, “they were met by boos, loud enough to hear from our side of the field, and they said it took a while to stop,” Williams said.

Most of the cheerleaders present that night were young women of color, Williams said. Seven are Black.

“One of their flag girls called one of my girls a B**** for stepping or almost stepping on her flag,” Williams’ post said.

As the Valley View team headed to the snack bar after the halftime show, they passed a section of home-team fans.

“A group of students started making monkey noises,” Williams said, “And there were adults in the crowd who either participated, or didn’t make a point to try and stop it.”

As the cheerleaders made their way to the crowded snack bar, they were “being pushed” and “blocked” by Temecula Valley High students, so they linked arms to try and stay together, Williams said. While standing in line, she said Temecula Valley High students made snarky, racially-charged comments towards the team. Several Temecula students tried to grab the cheerleaders’ hands, and one of the Temecula students “even touched a girl’s hair, a complete violation of her space.”

“Then they heard comments saying they were ‘on the wrong side,’ that they’re ‘not supposed to be here,” Williams said. “That was the last straw that they felt unsafe and had to leave.”

Leaders at both schools condemned the behavior. Temecula Valley High Principal Allen Williams, in a statement with the Temecula Valley Unified School District, promised “swift and appropriate action” and a prompt investigation.

The district “embraces diversity and strongly condemns hate speech and offensive, hateful language or racial intolerance of any kind on the sports fields, in school buildings or anywhere on or off school premises,” read the statement emailed Saturday, Aug. 21, to Temecula Valley High students and parents. “We will hold anyone found to have used such language while representing any of our schools accountable for their words and actions … we recognize that we have work to do in our schools and will continue to strive to promote equity, sportsmanship, respect and fair play on and off the field.”

The latest state Department of Education data show Valley View High is more than 13% Black and 9.5% White, while nearly half — 48.6% — of Temecula Valley High is White and less than 3% is Black.

In a Saturday statement, Moreno Valley Unified Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora said his district’s students “experienced unfair treatment and unacceptable behavior.”

“We care about all our students and we encourage all families and staff to continue to say something if you see something,” he wrote. “We will continue to work together and maintain focus on embracing and championing our diverse communities and inclusion across all schools and in our society.”

Williams, who was on the visitor team’s sideline when the events unfolded, wrote on Facebook: “I was honestly fearful of being at Temecula Valley High.”

“When (my students) came back to tell us what happened, I couldn’t think of anything but getting them out of there,” Williams wrote. “Tears ran down my face because I was so angry and hurt.”

This is the latest racially-driven incident at Temecula Valley High. In January 2020, a Black student said she was targeted twice with racist graffiti on campus.

Earlier this month, the Temecula City Council voted to keep the name of its commission on race and diversity, which acts as a watchdog for such incidents. That decision came after many city residents spoke at council meetings, calling for the panel’s dismantling and to say they don’t believe racism exists in their city.

It is not known whether any Temecula Valley High students have been disciplined, how many may be involved or whether the Moreno Valley district will take action. Temecula Valley district spokesperson Laura Boss said Tuesday she could not comment beyond the principal’s statement because the investigation is continuing.

Temecula Valley school board President Barbara Brosch said in an email that the district believes “there is no place for racism, or any hate-related speech or actions. Any confirmed incidents should be dealt with harshly.”

Williams said that, under the guidance of Valley View High’s administration, the school will file a formal complaint with the California Interscholastic Federation, which also oversees cheerleading. The school is putting together statements and information for the complaint, she said.

Federation spokesperson Thom Simmons said in an email late Tuesday that his office is aware of the incident and awaits reports from both schools and districts.

Some Temecula residents, students and officials also expressed disappointment with their community. A group of Temecula Valley High students staged a rally Monday, Aug. 23, outside their campus to show support for the victimized cheerleaders.

Resident Becky Sulzmann, who attended Monday’s rally, said such behavior against people of color “is learned at home,” and what happened proves “that there is a race problem in Temecula.”

Social justice group Temecula Unity raised more than $1,600 for Valley View High’s cheer program, and plans to deliver pizza to the team Wednesday, Aug. 25. Several Temecula Valley High student clubs have written letters and cards of support, Unity members said.

Jennee Scharf, a Temecula Unity member and teacher at Temecula’s Great Oak High School, said that Temecula Valley High “badly” needs new leadership. She cited past racist incidents, including the graffiti report.

“This has been ongoing at that school. We need to take this seriously,” Scharf said. “These kids are a reflection of their parents. It’s about how this is handled.”

Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington [Democrat] said Friday’s actions were “by a very small subset of close-minded people.”

“I find it rather troubling and disturbing … This is not the Temecula I served,” Washington said. “I want to believe the vast majority of Temecula residents do not think that way. We don’t believe in those things, and we’re not tolerant of racial hatred.”

Williams said she was “blown away by the support.”

“It tells me that there are people out here who see a problem, and are willing to help make this better,” she said. “These girls were traumatized by what happened … But they are excited, resilient, and will not let this define their season — they will rise above this.”

The Valley View Eagles cheer squad will be rooting for their team at a home game Thursday, Aug. 26.

Filed under California | permalink | August 25, 2021 at 08:00 AM


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