Moses Lake students allegedly yell ‘n-word’ at Yakima athletes during high school basketball game

Yakima-area high school athletes traveled more than 100 miles in a school bus over the weekend to Moses Lake High School for the first basketball game of the season.

By the time the game ended, parents said Davis High School students had been flipped off by the fans of the opposing team, harassed, called the ‘n-word’ and needed a police escort to get them safely back on the bus.

“I was just worried about my son and his teammates,” said Arquette Joe, whose son is on the Davis team. “I was just worried about them getting on the bus safe and getting out of Moses Lake safe.”

As of Monday afternoon, the Moses Lake School District had received more than 20 reports involving “both allegations presented and statements of clarification in support of Moses Lake attendees” stemming from Saturday’s basketball game, according to district news releases.

“School district officials were made aware . . .that racial slurs were being made between students, fans, athletes, and parents,” Superintendent Joshua Meek said in the release.

Meek said the school district, the high school and a third-party investigator are working to investigate the allegations.

“We are deeply troubled by these claims and reports, but are doing everything we can to get to the bottom of this quickly,” Meek said.

Parents said the issues began with Moses Lake students calling Davis players the n-word on the court and later, directing the insult to several students in the school bathroom, along with negative comments about their hair.

Arquette said after two quarters of the opposing school allegedly hurling racial slurs at the Davis athlete, he made his way to the other side of the court and asked those students directly, “if they had a problem.”

After that, Arquette went back to the other side; he said the students stopped, but their parents didn’t. One of the dads supporting the opposing team called him back over and accused him of bullying the Moses Lake students.

“They said I was intimidating some kids. Why? Because I’m big — a big, black guy?” Arquette said.

Arquette said the man called him the n-word and told him to go home to Yakima and that the man’s son laughed.

While Arquette was allowed to stay, when the game ended, he said anyone associated with the Davis team was told not to walk to their vehicles alone and was escorted to their vehicle by police officers.

Arquette’s five-year-old son was there with him and his mother, Erica Bennett — the boy’s parents said he heard his father get called the n-word and repeated it when they got home.

“I said, ‘That’s not a good word. Don’t say that,'” Arquette said.

Arquette said they don’t use the n-word at home; he doesn’t think his son had ever heard that word before Saturday.

“[My son] wanted to know why he called me that,” Arquette said. “I don’t ever want him to hear that word again.”

Frustrated with the situation, Erica said she posted about the incident on Facebook; the post soon went viral and as of Monday evening, has more than 1,600 shares and 650 comments.

“We are getting ready to go in to the year 2020 and this is absolutely ridiculous that we are still dealing with this,” Erica said in the post.

Another parent, Kandice Hooks started an online petition asking for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to ban schools, “where racism is tolerated.” As of Monday evening, the petition had garnered more than 570 signatures.

“Racism, racial slurs, derogatory comments should not be tolerated in public schools in any context,” Kandice said in the petition. “This is not an isolated event and needs to be changed immediately.”

In the news release, Meek said this is, “the first official report [the district has] received of this nature toward Moses Lake High School.”

Meek said the district is proud of its diverse population, where 53 percent of students are non-white.

“A culture of hate is in no way acceptable, and if these reports are validated corrective action will occur,” Meek said in the release. “But most importantly this must serve as a continuing lesson of acceptance and respect that we teach our students.”

Parents say the Moses Lake team is scheduled to come to Yakima in January for another game opposing the Davis team.

CLARIFICATION: Our original report stated the school district “had received more than 20 reports involving ‘racial allegations’ stemming from Saturday’s basketball game, according to a district news release.” The district has issued a new statement clarifying that the 20+ reports “include both allegations presented and statements of clarification in support of Moses Lake attendees.” The story has been changed to reflect this.

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