School where fans displayed Trump flag pulls out of MLK game

January 21, 2019 06:36 PM

A Minnesota high school where fans displayed a President Donald Trump re-election flag has pulled out of a basketball invitational hosted by a Minneapolis school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The Jordan High School boys' basketball team was scheduled to play Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School on Monday in the MLK Showcase at Minneapolis Roosevelt.

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Some Jordan fans displayed a Trump banner when Roosevelt visited Jordan last week. Jordan is a rural, overwhelmingly white community. Roosevelt's coach says his team is predominantly black.

On Jan. 16, Matthew Helgerson, Superintendent of Jordan Public Schools released the following statement:

"The Jordan School District is aware of concerns that have been raised about the events that occurred at the Boys Basketball game on January 15, 2019, where our team hosted the Minneapolis Roosevelt High School team. We regret that Roosevelt players and their coaching staff, fans and community were made to feel uncomfortable as it is always our intent to graciously host our opponents. The School District takes these concerns seriously and is reviewing this matter and collecting information. We cannot discuss the details as to the events that occurred or the School District's review as this information is classified as non-public, private student data. However, we are working cooperatively with the Minneapolis School District and Roosevelt High School in our review and response to this event."

On Jan. 20, Jordan Public Schools put out the following statement:

"The Jordan School District was scheduled to participate in the MLK Showcase event on Monday, January 21st. This is a wonderful athletic competition that showcases the skills of athletes from across the state. Given recent events, we believe the participation of our team in the event will detract from the hard work of the athletes and the upbeat focus of the MLK Showcase. After discussion with the MLK Showcase event coordinator, a decision has been made to pull out of the MLK Showcase game on Monday, January 21st. We do not want our presence at the event to detract from the athletes. We will continue to work with the Minneapolis School District to work cooperatively to move forward in a positive direction."

The Roosevelt boys basketball team also released the following statement regarding the incident:

"We're really surprised by all the attention this is getting, but appreciate that Coach Walker started the discussion. The issue is what our President represents to many people of color, whether that's what the Jordan fans knew or not. Looking back, we now wish we had the opportunity to talk to the Jordan players about what that banner represents to us here at Roosevelt. Then we could also tell them why we stay in the locker room during the National Anthem."

"The protest of the anthem and the lack of handshaking [we don't do that in our conference] in pregame were not meant to be disrespectful. We get that that's hard for some people to understand. The only way we can help each other understand is through a dialogue."

"This all comes down to people trying to see one another's point of view—and we're coming from a place that recognizes a history of oppression for people of color in the U.S. As young people, it's our job to bridge the divide and make the world a better place, a safer place, for every person, no matter their color or culture. We mean no harm toward Jordan or its fans, and we hope they will stand with us for change."

Tim Williams is the organizer of Dream Classic Minneapolis. The showcase has brought communities together on Martin Luther King Junior Day for the past five years.

“We are bringing two teams together that likely won't see each other throughout the season. We try to get teams from outside of the state, inside the state, city teams, suburban teams, bring them all in here together to show some unity,” said Williams.

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