From the moment Donald Trump announced his presidential bid in June, he has used antipathy toward illegal immigrants as a mainstay of his campaign. Now his name is being invoked by basketball fans in Iowa who are trying to taunt a racially diverse high school team there.
Perry High is located in a rural part of the state, making its relatively high percentage of minorities unusual. According to a report by Iowa TV station WHO, fans at a game Monday were chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and “U-S-A” at Perry players, who include boys of Latino, Native American and African American heritage.
“It’s honestly disrespectful. That’s how I take it. I hear it during the game, on and off the court. Everywhere I go,” Shammond Ivory, a senior on the team, told WHO.
An official for the school Perry played Monday, Dallas Center-Grimes, confirmed to the TV station that the chants had taken place. He declined to say whether any students had been disciplined.
“We are all aware of racism, it’s alive and well in small portions, but it’s alive and well and it’s just hurtful to see that’s what they resort to,” a Perry student, Kevin Lopez, said.
“With the political climate the way that it is, it’s a little more charged,” Perry’s principal, Dan Marburger, said. On Feb. 1, Trump came in second in the Iowa caucuses to GOP rival Sen. Ted Cruz, this after attacking Cruz for, among other things, flip-flopping on immigration issues.
However, Perry players, who moved to 13-9 after defeating Dallas Center-Grimes, 57-50, say they won’t be intimidated by the taunts. “As soon as I hear something like that, it just triggers me and it makes me strive for more and to do it for my team, coaches and my community,” Ivory told WHO.
The team’s head coach, Ned Menke, said, “It’s all about who you are as a person and that’s what is great about a small town like Perry.” Last week, Menke was named the Iowa High School Athletic Association 2016 Character Counts Coach of the Year.