SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego NAACP chapter Tuesday condemned players, coaches, and supporters of Coronado High School's basketball team after video surfaced showing people tossing uncooked tortillas at Orange Glen's boys basketball team, which is comprised of mostly Latino and Hispanic players and coaches.
“On June 19, 2021, while we all celebrated the first national recognition of the Emancipation of Slavery which undeniably is one of the biggest atrocities and injustices to occur over 154 years, Coronado High School (CHS) players did the unthinkable,” read a statement from Francine Maxwell, president of the San Diego Branch of the NAACP.
The incident happened shortly after Coronado High beat Orange Glen 60-57 at the CIF Southern California Boys Basketball Division 4-A Regional Championship. ABC 10News received a video showing spectators flinging tortillas at Orange Glen's side.
Covering Kern County
Tortillas hurled at Orange Glen HS basketball team after game vs. Coronado HS
In Maxwell's statement, the NCAAP president says the Coronado school district has failed to fully support anti-racism policies and confront microaggressions towards students of color.
"Let's be honest: The distasteful act of tortilla-throwing at a basketball game uncovers deep social inequities that are fueled by racism," said Maxwell.
"From marginalizing and dehumanizing groups of 'others' based on income and inequality to the Coronado Unified School District Board of Education and community not fully supporting Superintendent Mueller for confronting racism head on, including anti-Blackness, Coronado must stop turning a blind eye to racial microaggressions and, in this case, macroaggressions that continue to traumatize students of color within the district and throughout the county," said Maxwell.
Lizardo Reynoso, an assistant coach for Orange Glen, said Coronado's coach set off the incident after making disrespectful comments towards Reynoso's team as his players were lining up for a traditional post-game handshake.
"The players on the other team and some fans started throwing tortillas on our whole team, which, as you can see, we're predominately Hispanic and Latino, so it like, took us pretty hard," said Reynoso.
Coronado head coach JD Laaperi said the incident was being addressed.
"Unfortunately a community member brought tortillas and distributed them which was unacceptable and racist in nature. I do not condone this behavior. Coronado High School does not condone this behavior and is already taking appropriate action," Laaperi tweeted.
The Coronado Police Department hasn't publicly identified a suspect that initiated the tortilla tossing incident, but said that an adult male brought the tortillas to the game.
The NAACP is calling on the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) to name both schools co-champions or strip Coronado High of its regional title; ban two players who tossed tortillas at Orange Glen; ban Coronado's coach for at least one year; ban the parents who brought the tortillas from all games for all sports; and that Coronado be required "to monitor the behavior of its players and fans to assure they do not harass visiting players and fans during any competition."
"NAACP San Diego Branch also recommends that the Coronado Unified School District Board of Education, in collaboration with Superintendent Mueller, institute an ongoing program of restorative healing and cultural competence to instill respect for all people no matter their background or station in life," said Maxwell.
Coronado Unified School District's Superintendent, Karl J Mueller, sent a statement to ABC 10News calling the high school's behavior "reprehensible" and offering a "deep and sincere apology to the Orange Glen community."
"The individuals who participated in these actions do not reflect our school district values. I want to make it clear that there is no place for such conduct in Coronado Unified School District," said Mueller.
Mueller said the district will be taking swift action to address those involved.
An Instagram account believed to belong to the Coronado basketball team defended the "Tortilla Toss," saying it was "similar to throwing confetti at parties or a cap at the end of graduation."
The post caption continued: "There are many schools that have done this in the past such as Texas Tech, UCSB & Baylor ... It's unfortunate this act was misconstrued and the boys never would've done it if they thought it would be hurtful or offensive."
The Instagram account has since been made private.