PHOENIX (AP) - A group of Native American basketball fans say they were asked to move at a high school basketball game because of their race.
Globe High School fans traveled to American Leadership Academy’s Queen Creek campus Tuesday for girls and boys basketball games. School officials say some Globe fans became unruly in the stands and were asked to move to the visitors’ side of the gym. Eventually the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was called to move them.
The Globe fans who were asked to move are Native American. They say they were not singled out and instead were asked to move because of their race.
Chasity Fall, who was attending the game, said she was there to root for Globe High School, but didn’t feel like that’s how she was treated.
“He goes, ‘We’re asking everybody to move over there - all you guys. You guys!’ - pointing to us,” Fall said. “Never once did he say ‘Globe Tiger fans,’ or never once did he say ‘Patriots fans.’”
Fall said if visiting team’s fans are expected to sit in assigned seating she would have liked to know when she entered the gym.
“I have never felt so belittled, dirty, degraded, treated like I did not matter,” she said.
American Leadership Academy said the request for fans to move was not racially motivated. The school does not have a policy regulating where spectators sit, but do have rules prohibiting disruptive behavior such as profanity, heckling, racist remarks and threatening.
Sgt. Calbert Gillett said people were going on to the basketball court and disrupting the game.
“Deputies did not participate in any sort of activity that segregated anybody,” Gillett said in a statement.
Tommy Roberts, the academy’s executive director, said referees asked that the fans be moved because of their behavior.
“I don’t have the specifics on what precisely the unsportsmanlike conduct was, but I was told foul language was involved,” Roberts said.
Roberts said when administrators asked the Globe fans to move they refused and moved more foul language. Eventually administrators decided to call police because the fans were uncooperative.
“As it turns out, those fans were Native American, but they were singled out for their behavior, not for their race,” Roberts said.
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