On Tuesday night, as the Minneapolis Roosevelt High School basketball team tipped off against their opponent in Jordan, some players likely noticed a large, conspicuous sign in the bleachers.
On the home side of the gym, a group of young fans – most white, many sporting red, white, and blue attire -- had draped a banner over their legs: "TRUMP 2020: KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
Roosevelt coach Michael Walker had a few concerns.
“I coach a predominantly black inner-city high school team,” he posted to Facebook on Wednesday, right above a photo of the banner. “We go out to a rural area in Jordan, MN and this is there. Please explain how and why this is appropriate at a high school basketball game?”
Walker, who’s black, included the hashtags #blackmen and #representationmatters at the end of his post. The coach is also director of his district’s Office of Black Male Student Achievement, the Star Tribune reports.
Walker’s post spurred a lively comment section. Some commenters claim the banner was harmless, merely an expression of free speech. Others contend it “was not appropriate” and “the adults” of the Jordan School District should have said so.
Jordan Superintendent Matt Jelgerson sent a statement saying the district is "aware" of these concerns and that he and the district "regret that Roosevelt players and their coaching staff, fans, and community were made to feel uncomfortable as it is always our intent to graciously host our opponents." The Jordan School District, it went on to say, would be working with the Minneapolis School District and Roosevelt to review and respond to "this event."
In a comment on his own post, Walker noted that, despite the banner, it was otherwise a good game. His players “played hard and kept their composure” last night; he was “very proud” of his "guys."
The Jordan School District issued the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
"The Jordan School District is aware of concerns that have been raised about the events that occurred at the Boys Basketball game on January 15, 2019, where our team hosted the Minneapolis Roosevelt High School team. We regret that Roosevelt players and their coaching staff, fans and community were made to feel uncomfortable as it is always our intent to graciously host our opponents. The School District takes these concerns seriously and is reviewing this matter and collecting information. We cannot discuss the details as to the events that occurred or the School District’s review as this information is classified as non-public, private student data. However, we are working cooperatively with the Minneapolis School District and Roosevelt High School in our review and response to this event."