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In August, cheerleaders of a Southern California high school left a football game early after allegedly being greeted with racist taunts by fans of the other school’s team.

Out of Valley View High School’s 17 cheerleaders, NBC News reports that five of the group are Black. 

At a mid-August football game against Temecula Valley High School, witnesses claim a few Valley View cheerleaders left the field crying after a racist run-in with some of Temecula’s fans.

During an intermission, the outlet reports that Valley Views cheerleaders went to the home team’s sideline to watch the game’s halftime show with their Temecula counterparts “as custom.”

When the Valley View squad went to the snack bar and visited the restrooms following the halftime show, that’s allegedly when some of Temecula’s fans hurled their hateful taunts.

“You have to go over there. So my girls — as they went through the stands — they heard from the crowd, making monkey noises [at them],” Kenya Williams, Valley View’s cheerleading coach and school counselor told NBC News. “It was like, ‘Did you hear that?’ ‘Yeah I heard that.'”

Even though the outlet clarified that Williams wasn’t nearby when the alleged incident reportedly happened, the cheerleading coach also shared her reaction after hearing about the horrible ordeal that night.

“My first instinct was, ‘Let me get the girls out of here,'” Williams said. “I didn’t know if they were going to follow the girls to the bus after the game was over. It was traumatizing to them.”

The Valley View cheer team ended up leaving the game prematurely at the beginning of the third quarter.

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A spokeswoman for Temecula Valley Unified School District expressed that they were aware of the “allegations regarding the use of racially charged language and racial slurs at a football game.”

“Our school district embraces diversity and strongly condemns hate speech and offensive, hateful language or racial intolerance of any kind on the sports fields, in school buildings, or anywhere on or off school premises,” her statement noted. “We will hold anyone found to have used such language while representing any of our schools accountable for their words and actions.”

Tony Kingsberry, a Black father with a 14-year-old who attends Temecula Valley High, told a Los Angeles-based NBC news outlet that parents received a letter from the school’s principal about the alleged incident, but unfortunately, the damage had already been done. 

“It hurts,” Kingsberry told the outlet. “And people just don’t understand that pain, whether they’re young kids in high school or adults. Even though he didn’t address what the actual slurs were, I’ve been around long enough as an African American to know that it’s very hurtful regardless of what the racial slurs are.”

In support of Valley View High School’s cheerleaders, Temecula students rallied on Monday, August 23. They carried signs around that said things like “Hate has no home here” and “Hate needs to stop.” 

Valley View High School is located in Southern California’s Moreno Valley Unified School District. Both the latter and Temecula Valley Unified School District are reportedly investigating the incident jointly, but have yet to release their findings and/or hold the appropriate parties culpable.

To get more on the story, see NBC’s full coverage here.

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