Crowd yells 'you should have been George Floyd' at Iowa high school's only Black baseball player
CHARLES CITY, IOWA: A high school athlete, Jeremiah Chapman, had horrible racial taunts hurled at him during a baseball game that took place on June 27.
Chapman who plays for Charles City High school heard "several bigoted comments yelled from the crowd" at a game at Waverly-Shell Rock High, an online statement from the Charles City Community School district and information from the school district communications director revealed. Chapman told CNN that he is the only Black player on the Charles City High team and added that fans yelled things like "you should have been George Floyd" and "get back to the fields".
Chapman said that his team had lost in the first game but held a four-run lead later when the crowds in the bleachers behind the outfield began to get unruly and rowdy. The crowds initially targeted Chapman's teammate who is a sophomore, Hunter Sullivan, The Courier reported. Chapman recalled how crowds yelled at his teammate and said, "Number 17, you're garbage."
"I said, 'Hunter, just ignore it'," Chapman shared. It was after this that the crowds turned on Chapman. "They called me Colin — I assumed they were just calling me Colin Kaepernick," he said. Former NFL star Colin Kaepernick became famous for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality in 2016.
Chapman added, "Then, after I caught a ball, they said, ‘You need to go back to the fields to do your job." He shared, "That made me really mad because I have never worked in the field a day in my life." When the crowd turned their attention away from him and targeted his teammates, Chapman once again encouraged his teammates to ignore them. This is when the George Floyd comment was made.
The comment was made in reference to the death of 46-year-old Floyd who died at the hands of the police after a now-former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Chapman was able to keep his composure until they were off the field and then told his coaches what had happened. His head coach went to speak with the Waverly head coach while his assistant coach hugged him and reminded him that he is there for him. His teammates overheard what had happened and they also got extremely upset. Post the game, Chapman had also texted his mother Keisha M Cunnings and said, "Mom, why are we treated so badly? Like, what did us Black people do? I love you mom."
He told CNN that he had been excited to return to some normalcy in light of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. He said, "I try my hardest to have everyone like me because that's just my personality. And it's just hard seeing that no matter how hard I try, people can't accept me because of my skin color."
The Waverly Shell Rock Community School District took to Facebook to release a statement where they called out the "extremely inappropriate, bigoted comments towards a Charles City player". They made a sincere apology to the Charles City School district and community and the player the comments were directed at, adding they were using the incident as a learning experience.
The school district was slammed on social media by users who demanded they do much more than 'just learn' from the experience. One such person wrote, "Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District I was a part of your baseball team during my high school years. I do not condone the behavior of the individual at all. Despite this being the first I have heard of this event because of recovering in the hospital the last several weeks. It is wise to have apologized however to the WSR Administration directly: Saying that this will be used as a learning experience for the individual is not enough because actions speak louder than words. So either go big or go home."