Calif. mayor demands apology from school district for quick judgment on basketball team over tortilla incident

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A Southern California mayor demanded an apology from his town’s school district for calling the boy’s high school basketball team’s tortilla-throwing incident racist.

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey said the school board’s statement condemning the act as labeling it racist, classism and colorist was premature as an investigation was not even launched yet.

Bailey added that the California Interscholastic Federation’s (CIF) decision to strip the team of a high school championship was a “rush to judgment.”

“There’s a big difference between unsportsmanlike conduct, unsportsmanlike conduct that is racially insensitive and a racially motivated act,” the mayor said, via City News Service. “These are the same student-athletes that nominated two players on their team — who are players that just happened to be Black and happened to be half-Black and half-Hispanic — to represent them as their team captains.”

Coronado High School defeated Orange Glen High School, 60-57, in overtime. Video posted on social media showed coaches from both high schools getting into an altercation when tortillas were thrown at players from Orange Glen, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Orange Glen High School is a predominantly Latin American school located in Escondido.

Luke Serna admitted to bringing the tortillas to the game and argued there was no racial intent, saying he had been trying to mimic a tradition UC Santa Barbara had done at different sporting events.

One Coronado school board member told City News Service on Wednesday the responsibilities to keep the incident from happening lies with the adults. Board Vice President Esther Valdes said the actions were “denigrating, humiliating and racist” and stood by the decision to apologize to the Escondido community.

The CIF stood by its decision to strip Coronado of the title and place the school on probation.

“After a thorough review and analysis of the incident following the conclusion of the Division 4-A regional basketball championship game between Coronado High School and Orange Glen High School, the CIF state executive director reiterates that discriminatory and racially insensitive behaviors toward an opponent contravene the principles of education-based athletics,” the CIF said.

“In this instance, there is no doubt the act of throwing tortillas at a predominately Latino team is unacceptable and warrants sanctions.”

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