DES MOINES, Iowa — Ames High School officials are denying that its fans directed racist chants at opponents on Wednesday, but they do call the fans’ actions ‘hurtful.’
Channel 13 heard complaints from multiple fans of Des Moines North that Ames High fans were making ‘monkey’ or ‘gorilla’ noises at North players late during a Tuesday night substate boys basketball game played at Ankeny Centennial High School. Ames won the game 63-54 and secured a spot in next week’s state tournament.
Catum Whitfield, a Des Moines North alumnus, was at the game. He says he and a friend distinctly heard Ames’ student section making what they called racist noises at North players as they shot free throws in the 4th quarter. Tatum says incidents like this have become too common.
“Unfortunately it wasn`t surprising to hear it but it always leaves a bad taste in your mouth when something that happens. Its unfortunate especially in a very good and intense game like that,” Whitfield said. After the game he emailed a complaint to Ames Athletic Director Judge Johnston. Johnston admitted to Tatum that fans were making noises, though he denies there was racist intent.
“Our student section was making “barking” noises. In the grand scheme of what is allowed and not ,and how it is perceived, we allowed that to continue,” Johnston wrote in an e-mail to Whitfield. “I hope you also saw our students doing a good job of supporting Ames and also most of the evening being respectful of the North team.”
Ames Superintendent Jenny Risner and Ames High School Principal Spence Evans released this statement to Channel 13 on Wednesday:
“Regardless of intent, these chants were hurtful. We take this teachable moment very seriously as this is part of our ongoing effort to work towards building a district that prepares thoughtful and respectful citizens who are sensitive to the ways their behavior impacts others. Moving forward, we will have conversations as a District about the way we demonstrate our respect for others.”