AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Seneca Nation of Indians is condemning what it calls an act of racism that was captured on video at a recent boys varsity lacrosse game at Williamsville South High School.
Earlier this week, a spectator appeared to use language offensive to Native Americans after an incident on the field. Williamsville South was hosting Lake Shore High School, which the Seneca Nation says has “a significant number of Seneca students.”
The Seneca Nation and Williamsville Central School District both released statements in response to the incident, which can be seen in full below.
“Not only are these comments deeply disrespectful and hurtful to our young athletes, the person making them put ignorance and lack of human decency on display for all to see and hear,” the Seneca Nation said. “Lacrosse is an event we hold sacred, making the comments all the more egregious.”
Williamsville said it is “aware of a racially offensive statement made by a spectator” and has initiated a thorough investigation.
“On Wednesday, April 26, Native American high school athletes experienced a shocking incident of hate speech during a lacrosse game between Lake Shore High School (a school with a significant number of Seneca students) and Williamsville South High School. A spectator at the event was caught on camera spewing racist and disgusting hate speech towards the Native American athletes on the Lake Shore team. Not only are these comments deeply disrespectful and hurtful to our young athletes, the person making them put ignorance and lack of human decency on display for all to see and hear. Lacrosse is an event we hold sacred, making the comments all the more egregious. We cannot and will not accept this behavior from anyone and hope that this individual is held accountable for their blatantly racist taunts.
Just days ago, New York State implemented a long-overdue rule prohibiting schools from using Native American names, logos and mascots. It was a step toward finally respecting our people, our culture and our heritage in the public realm. One individual at Williamsville South illustrated how far we still have to go. Imagine a teenage student athlete being ridiculed and reduced – by an adult no less – to a hurtful caricature based on their background and the color of their skin. It’s shameful.
We call on Williamsville South High School and Section VI to investigate the incident and make right a moment that marred the evening for all athletes. It is our expectation that the offending spectator will be identified and that appropriate actions will be taken to prevent this individual from spreading further hate and racism at any future sporting contests. Their behavior is a stain on the community and only keeps our society mired in incivility.”Seneca Nation of Indians
The Williamsville Central School District also issued a statement in response to the incident:
“We are aware of a racially offensive statement made by a spectator in the crowd during Wednesday night’s boys lacrosse game between Williamsville South and Lake Shore. Any comments that are inappropriate, offensive, or derogatory will not be tolerated. We expect all spectators to respect players, coaches, and officials at all times, and in accordance with school and athletic policy. We have initiated a thorough investigation and will take appropriate action, up to and including barring attendance from athletic events for individuals who cannot adhere to our policies and expectations.”Williamsville Central Schools
Following Williamsville’s response, Lake Shore Central School District issued the following statement:
“The Lake Shore Central School District is appreciative of the Williamsville Central School District’s response to racist comments made by one or more spectators at our boys’ varsity lacrosse game earlier this week. Lake Shore CSD appreciates our long standing positive relationship with the Seneca Nation and its residents, and the support they and our neighboring school districts have shown Lake Shore, our students, and their families as we stand together against racism and bias against any of our children.”Lake Shore Central School District
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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.