School Incident Tests Petaluma's Tolerance, Opens Door to Conversation

Chants and a mean sign aimed at Latino students during a PHS basketball game prompt a discussion about race, discrimination in Petaluma. Is this an isolated incident or does it point to entrenched hatred of foreigners, minorities in our community?


Is Petaluma the accepting and open-minded town we like to think it is?

An incident in which Hispanic basketball players from Santa Rosa were taunted by Petaluma High School students during a game earlier this month has prompted a conversation about discrimination and racism.

On February 1, PHS students attending the home game began chanting “USA! USA!.” Another student held up a sign that read “Dirty Sanchez,” aimed at Angel Sanchez, a Latino basketball player from Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa, according to a story in Thursday’s Argus Courier.

Petaluma High School Principal David Stirrat was at the game, but did not stop the chanting, something he now says he regrets.

“It’s subjective what patriotism is…it takes a bit of time to make that mental leap,” he wrote in an email to PHS parents, quoted in the paper. “Personally I regret not stopping the chanting. In my retrospection, I should have guided the students that evening.”

Elsie Allen Principal Mary Gail Stablein said she was shocked and disappointed by the behavior, but proud the Santa Rosa students did not react to the provocation, according to the story.

PHS students have written to Elsie Allen High School apologizing for the incident and the school last week held discussion about racism and discrimination in the society.

To read the full story, click here.

What do you think? Was this an isolated incident or indicative of attitudes prevalent in our community? What can be done to correct it? Are you a student or parent with a child attending a local school? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Concerned Citizen February 16, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Please! You were "supporting" the first post, yet say in your very first sentence "the chant is perfectly acceptable"....meaning its OK with you that White High School Kids chant USA towards Hispanic kids in an attempt to insinuate the Hispanic Kids are NOT US Citizens. You call it "poor form"? My goodness....bury your head a little further in the sand.
The Fool February 16, 2013 at 07:53 PM
I guess my only question is whether kids were not allowed to chant other things. I simply refuse to believe that it was some sort of pressure or confusion that contributed to that situation. They weren't blowing off steam from being disallowed to verbalize. They were simply being asses, and with a clear undertone. We must stop making excuses for racism.
SP February 17, 2013 at 07:44 AM
Angelo, Your emotion blocks your logic. I said repeatedly that racism is intolerable and that all cultures and ethnicities make up the USA. I am only third generation American so spare me your lecture. By the way, not every kid chanting was white. It is hard to be blind to color lines when you keep accentuating them.
Concerned Citizen February 17, 2013 at 11:10 AM
" I don't find chanting "USA USA" IN THE USA racist" & "I think the chant is perfectly acceptable". (Those were your quotes...right SP? Both of which ARE Racist when used in the manner the PHS kids used it. Give me a break, or state your point better. Political Correctness has absolutely ZERO to do with any of this story. Sheesh.
Green T February 22, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Blah blah blah! Dress up racism in any pretty package you want. It's still and always wrong. It's taught at home. We all know what acceptable behavior is is what it is not.


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