Allegations were made by Hudson’s Bay players, who joined with others to protest during Friday’s game between the two schools
KELSO — During the boys basketball game against Hudson’s Bay High School on Jan. 7, it was alleged that racial comments/taunts were made by Kelso students and players and that a Hudson’s Bay player’s genitals were grabbed.
In a news release issued Monday, Kelso School District officials stated that the district has zero tolerance for racism and hate speech and takes allegations of this nature very seriously.
“After informally learning of the allegations, more than two weeks after they were alleged to have occurred, Kelso School District took immediate action and investigated these allegations by reviewing video footage and interviewing players, students and coaches,’’ stated the release.
Specifically, it was during this investigation that the following allegations were determined to be unfounded:
- Racial taunts: It was alleged that when a Hudson’s Bay player was shooting free throws, Kelso students were reported to have been making noises which were said to have sounded like “gorilla noises.” After reviewing game film and interviewing students, it was determined that the students were barking, a common form of distraction used by Kelso students at numerous past sporting events. As a result of this sound being misinterpreted as a racial taunt, the student body and teams have been instructed to discontinue this chant in the future.
- In-game assault: An allegation was made that a Kelso player purposely grabbed a Hudson’s Bay player’s genitals. After review of game film, interviews with students and interviews with coaches, the accusation remains unsubstantiated.
The news release went on to state, “before Kelso School District was ever notified of the allegations against the boys basketball team, a protest was being organized on social media. Protesters demonstrated at the basketball game on Jan. 24. Unfortunately, the behavior of some individuals in that group became hostile, abusive, inappropriate (https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1zqKVEdOqVXxB 1:18:54 – 1:19:38) and at one point, even required stoppage of the game (1:22:35 – 1:25:18) for several minutes to contain the demonstrators.’’
“’We Are Kelso’ is what we live by — our identity within S.W. Washington. Our pride and respect for what that means showed at last Friday’s game against Hudson’s Bay,” said Kelso Superintendent Mary Beth Tack in the news release. “We want to commend our fans, players and coaches for their exceptional behavior in the face of such adversity, which should never have been allowed at a high school basketball game; this behavior would not be tolerated here at Kelso High School.”
The news release concluded with, “it is Kelso School District’s commitment now and always to create an environment safe for friendly competition with teams throughout this region and beyond. Kelso School District is taking action to ensure that remaining basketball games are well supervised, with appropriate security present and agreed-up conduct between opposing teams.’’
Information provided by Kelso School District.