Iowa community rocked by cross-burning photo looks for return to normalcy

Iowa community rocked by cross-burning photo looks for return to normalcy

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Iowa community rocked by cross-burning photo looks for return to normalcy

HARLAN, Ia. — Creston/Orient-Macksburg’s football players walked onto the turf at Harlan’s Merrill Field in a group Friday, with team captains leading the way, holding hands.

EARLIER: Black QB speaks out after teammates dismissed from team for cross-burning photo | Iowa football coach dismisses five students from team after KKK cross-burning photo 

“Where my dogs at?” A player shouted. The rest of the team barked in reply.

As the Panthers neared the visitor sideline, one of them raised a red flag with a school logo. The players ran down the field as the fans cheered. It was a week of hurt and healing for Creston/OM parents, students and community members.

This was a chance for some normalcy in a week that was anything but.

A photograph of five Creston students, later identified as football players and kicked off the team, went viral Wednesday. The students wore white hoods associated with the Ku Klux Klan. One held what appeared to be a Confederate flag. Another hoisted a gun. In front of them was a makeshift burning cross. The story was picked up nationally.

In most years, the football game itself would have been the talk of the towns — both schools are members of the Hawkeye 10 Conference. But not this week.

The photo continued a national dialogue of race in America. It created other debates as well: school discipline and the consequences of actions and the boundaries of free speech, among them.

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