'That's Why You Shouldn't Let Monkeys Out of Their Cages': Racist Tweets After H.S. Basketball Game

How did the Mahopac basketball team's head coach—who is Black—react? What punishment is in store for the students?

By Albert Lin


Three New York high school students have been suspended and more are expected to be disciplined for posting racist messages on social media following their school's loss in a basketball game to a largely Black team.

"Those students are held accountable," said Mahopac Central School District Superintendent Thomas Manko, who emphasized that members of the team were not involved in the tweets. "They have been suspended from school. They'll lose privileges for participating in activities for a long time to come."

Manko added that the students will undergo sensitivity training when they return to school. He would not specify the length of the suspensions but said suspensions usually run from one to five days. "They chose poorly, horribly," Manko told The Journal News. "To use racial slurs or stereotypes, there's no room for that in our worldview."

Tensions were already high during the Feb. 27 game between Mahopac High School and Mount Vernon High School, both in suburban New York City, with reports of racial slurs being used by Mahopac players and fans and of a Confederate flag being waved. After Mt. Vernon's 43-40 win, Twitter exploded with racist messages, such as: "That's why you shouldn't let monkeys out of their cages #mtvernonzoo"; "tough loss boys, but at least we can talk to our dads about it"; and "one of the very few biological mount vernon fathers just tried to sell me crack outside the county center." (Many of the tweets in question have since been deleted or the accounts set to private or closed.)

Mahopac student Laura Peniowich told WCBS-TV, "It's disgraceful. It's embarrassing that people are saying racial slurs on Twitter. It's embarrassing just to go to the school."

Mahopac Head Coach Kevin Downes, who is Black, took to Twitter to express his displeasure at the actions of his team's supporters:

Mount Vernon Head Coach and Athletic Director Gary Cimmino said, "It's a disgusting part of sports."

In a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner of Education John King, Mount Vernon City School District Interim Superintendent Judith Johnson said that her school's team was "verbally attacked and subjected to racial taunts of an abhorrent nature." She called for, among other things, the events to be recognized as a civil-rights violation and for the Mahopac basketball team to be suspended for one year. (Presumably she means that the school not be able to field a team for a year, not that the players should be suspended from school for a year.)

Manko, who is retiring in June, said he has already apologized to Mount Vernon officials and hopes that the coaches and members of both teams can sit down for lunch and get to know each other better. Cimmino doesn't plan to be there. "I'm not interested in that at all," he said. "These might be criminal acts. If someone does something to me, I'm not interested in sitting down and singing religious songs with them."

As of the 2010 Census, the population of Mahopac was 91.1 percent white and 2.1 percent Black, while Mount Vernon was 63.4 percent Black and 24.3 white.

REUTERS

Twenty-one white people (including seven male board members and CEO Steve Simon) of a total of 22 people in the World Tennis Association's (WTA) management made the call to boot Serena Williams from seeding for the French Open for having a baby.

Read More Show Less
FACEBOOK

Be careful if you park under a tree in the warm weather — you might get accused of having marijuana in your car.

Read More Show Less

Vickers "Vic" Cunningham, a former Dallas judge who's running in the Republican primary runoff election for Dallas county commissioner on Tuesday, decided to provide his children a monetary incentive to condone homophobia and racism. Cunningham set up a living trust with a clause rewarding his children if they marry a white, straight Christian.

Read More Show Less

What On Earth Is Becky Afraid Of?

Student who brings assault rifle to campus gets no arrest, no police shooting thanks to white privilege.

TWITTER

If Kaitlin Bennett wasn't white, you'd be reading about a dead Black student.

Read More Show Less

Black Man Imprisoned for 3 months After Trying to Buy Breakfast at Burger King, Sues for Nearly $1M

"Nobody deserves to be treated the way that Emory was treated," Emory Ellis' attorney said.

REUTERS

As 911 calls are continually being made to authorities regarding Black people simply existing, a Black man's experience with racial profiling at Burger King is coming to light. On Tuesday, he filed a $950,000 lawsuit.

Read More Show Less

Two Different Cups of Joe: How The Coffee Bean and Starbucks Handled Racism

In an age of increasing racial confrontations, a business must have zero tolerance for discrimination.

In the Trump era, there has been a proliferation of Islamophobic and racist incidents across the country. When discrimination occurs at a place of business, it's apparent if the company's leadership and workforce support diversity and inclusion. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café barista refused to serve a racist customer; meanwhile, a white manager at a Starbucks called the police on two Black men for no reason.

Read More Show Less

White Woman Calls 911 on Black Real Estate Investor, Cops Say She Might Go to Jail: Video

"This is what we go through. [I'm] a young, Black man out here trying to do what's right," Michael Hayes said.

In the continual reports of white people calling 911 on Black people for doing ordinary things, a Black real estate investor was reported to authorities for doing his job.

Read More Show Less