After 3 Red River High School hockey fans wore KKK-like garb, school calls parents, takes ‘appropriate action’
GRAND FORKS, N.D. —Grand Forks Red River High School administrators said Saturday that action has been taken against students who dressed in Ku Klux Klan garb Friday night during the Roughriders’ state tournament hockey game against Fargo Davies.
“We, as a school, are extremely disappointed with the behavior of these three students,” Principal Kris Arason said in a statement. “This behavior is not a representation of our school or student body.”
He also released results of the schools investigation, adding that administrators have contacted the three students and their parents, and “appropriate action is being taken.”
During Friday night’s game, a UND student took a photo of the students with his cell phone and posted it on the social media site Twitter.
The photo showed the Red River student section during the game. Many students wore white clothing and white face paint, following school tradition that the fans dress in school colors during the state tournament. Called a “white out,” the custom was popularized by the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. But three of the students wore white robes and pointed hoods that bore striking resemblance to the costume of KKK members.
The photo had been “retweeted” and commented on numerous times, with many posting negative reactions. The photo has also made its way to other social media sites and national news websites, including USA Today, the Huffington Post and sports website Deadspin.
The article about the incident on the Herald’s website had more than 31,000 hits as of 5:30 p.m.
In a statement Saturday, Mark Rerick, athletic director for Grand Forks Public Schools, said officials acted quickly Friday night once they were alerted about the attire of the three students.
“After being alerted about the picture of the students in the stands, I immediately conferred with our tournament security staff as well as the security personnel working for Ralph Engelstad Arena,” Rerick said in the statement released Saturday morning.
In his statement, Arason said the three students had not entered Ralph Engelstad Arena wearing the “inappropriate attire,” but donned them at 6:48 p.m. after the team’s first goal. He said they only wore the attire for 30 seconds to a minute.
“The students removed the attire after students around them told them how offensive their attire was,” the statement said.
But according to Shane Schuster, the UND student who took the photo and posted it to Twitter, the trio had the attire on for a longer time. “It seemed like they had it on for about 10 minutes,” he said Saturday.
Arason said there were three Red River administrators and two arena security guards in the student section during the incident. Although administrators did not learn of the inappropriate attire until after the game, Arason told the Herald later that the three students could not have been wearing the attire for that long.
“That is not even close to the correct amount of time we have heard,” he said, citing multiple Red River student eyewitness reports. “There was a security guard posted by the student section. There is no way they could have had the attire on for that long.”
Schuster posted his photo on the social media site Twitter at 7:40 p.m. with the caption: “I guess the red river highschoolers are racist?”
“We were behind the visitor’s bench,” he said Saturday. “The first period had just started, and the (Red River) student section was doing a chant. I squinted my eyes, and saw them wearing the KKK-style clothes. I was shocked and did a double take.”
Many Twitter and Facebook users expressed their displeasure for the attire late Friday and Saturday.
Fargo Public Schools Athletic Director Todd Olson, who is the former athletic director for Grand Forks Public Schools, said there are no plans to file a formal complaint against Red River.
“It is a (Red River) matter, and they’ll handle it,” said Olson, who also serves on the North Dakota High School Athletics Association board of directors.
Fargo Davies is named after Ronald Davies, a former U.S. District judge in Fargo who forced the governor of Arkansas to back down after the governor tried to interfere with the desegregation of Little Rock schools in 1957.
Tom Davies, the judge’s son, said Saturday he’s not sure if the three students wearing hoods and robes did so because they knew the story behind Davies High or if it was part of the white out. In either case, he said they were not thinking deeply.
“I’m not familiar with the white out actions and they cause me no concern,” said Davies, a retired Fargo municipal court judge known for his stern lectures toward young adults who appeared before him in court. “The hooded portion is something the school administration should talk to the students about. They may not have attached any significance to their attire but, if they did, and it was racially motivated, then the school ought to take appropriate action, whatever that is.”
Article written by Robb Jeffries of Forum News Service. Wendy Reuer of Forum News Service contributed to this report.