Is this incident racist or simply teenagers behaving badly?
Does it warrant firing of the coach whose players were involved in the tortilla toss (pictured above)?
Excerpted from San Diego Union Tribune 6.24.2021
The Coronado Unified School Board voted unanimously to fire their head basketball coach Tuesday night, days after someone threw tortillas at an opposing team Saturday night.
Some people have said it was a racist incident, considering Orange Glen is a predominantly Latino school.
But others say it is too soon to jump to conclusions and the incident may not have been racist.
According to witnesses, Coronado head basketball coach JD Laaperi allegedly cursed at an Orange Glen coach after the game, saying “That’s why you don’t talk (expletive). Get your kids and get the (expletive) out of here.”
The board members took the vote behind closed doors and did not comment further. During closed session the board discussed but did not take action on student discipline.
Calls for the punishment of those involved in the tortilla throwing incident crescendoed throughout the day Tuesday.
After a Saturday night division championship game between Coronado High and Orange Glen High, a high school in Escondido, at least two people threw tortillas at the Orange Glen team.
The Coronado school board held a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the aftermath of the Saturday game that ended in the altercation.
A growing list of organizations and advocates are calling the tortilla tossing racist, including Gente Unida, the People’s Association of Justice Advocates, Latino American Political Association, Chicano Federation, La Raza Lawyers, North County Equity and Justice Coalition, NAACP San Diego, CAIR-San Diego, and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Sweetwater Union High School District, a majority-Latino school district that was not involved with the tortilla incident, also weighed in Monday with a statement saying the tortilla throwing was a “hateful act” that “seems intentional.”
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon in front of Coronado High, several community members called for the firing of Laaperi, whom they blamed for starting the chaos on Saturday.
Laaperi has said the school district has asked him not to speak to the media about the incident.
In a tweet Sunday, Laaperi said it was a community member who “unfortunately” brought tortillas to the game, which Laaperi said was “unacceptable and racist in nature.”
Superintendent Karl Mueller sent out a press release on Sunday apologizing and calling the throwing of the tortillas reprehensible.
Many at the press conference said an apology from Coronado is not good enough for them. They also want diversity training, ethnic studies and other racial equity initiatives for Coronado High.
“We don’t want prayers and, ‘Oh, we’re sorry.’ We want action,” said Enrique Morones, founder of the Gente Unida organization.