Lawrence North alleges racial taunts at BNL girls' basketball game

Lawrence North alleges racial taunts at BNL girls' basketball game


Lawrence North alleges racial taunts at BNL girls' basketball game



The Indiana High School Athletic Association is investigating complaints from Lawrence North about racially targeted behavior and taunts from Bedford North Lawrence fans during the girls’ basketball semistate game at Bedford on Saturday.

“Those concerns are currently under investigation,” said Chris Kaufman, IHSAA assistant commissioner, who added the IHSAA had no other comment at this time.

Lawrence North Principal Brett Crousore complained in a letter sent Tuesday, and obtained by The Star through a public records request, of several issues he felt needed to be addressed, including racially targeted behavior and a public perception of systematic racism.

Crousore also questioned the location of the game at Bedford, noting the Lawrence North team is all black and was playing an all-white team in a predominantly white community. Bedford North Lawrence does start a biracial player.

In his letter, Crousore wrote that some members of the Bedford North Lawrence student section wore gorilla outfits and other students wore safari gear at the game. Those donning the gorilla costumes stood underneath the Lawrence North basket during warmups.

“Our assistant coach moved to stand between the BNL students and our players,” Crousore wrote. “After I addressed this issue with the BNL athletic director, at the beginning of the first quarter, he did have the students remove the costumes. He seemed amazed that I did not approve.”

Bedford North Lawrence athletic director Jeff Callahan confirmed the students were asked to take off the gorilla costumes during the first quarter, but said the costumes were not racially motivated.

“The safari was a theme because we were going after Wildcats,” said Callahan, referring to Lawrence North’s nickname. “Those (gorilla suits) had been worn at games throughout the year. I talked to the principal at Lawrence North, and we discussed it. We made the decision to ask them to take them off. It wasn’t like they brought them out just for that game.”

Crousore said students, coaches, parents and his administrative team saw the attire as a racially insensitive choice.

Beyond that, Crousore described in his letter the use of racial comments, directed at his students: “In the last two days, I have received reports that students were referred to with racial slurs, including the N-word, while waiting in line for concessions at halftime.”

Callahan said he did not hear any racial slurs or taunts during the game.

Lawrence North athletic director Grant Nesbit said in a statement Wednesday that Lawrence North appreciates the efforts of Bedford North Lawrence school officials and have had productive conversations with them since the game.

Bedford North Lawrence, ranked No. 2 in Class 4-A, beat No. 1 Lawrence North 62-54 in overtime to advance to the Class 4A state title game. Tournament sites are chosen by IHSAA before the school year, but Lawrence North officials think the game should have been played in Richmond to avoid a home-court advantage.


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