Canton school principal: Trump chants crossed line into hate spe - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Canton school principal: Trump chants crossed line into hate speech

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Students at a suburban Connecticut high school are being criticized by their principal for using hate speech after chanting President Trump's name during a varsity basketball game against a school from Hartford.

In a letter to parents, Canton High School Principal Andrew DiPippo says about seven or eight students crossed the line with their chants of "Trump, Trump, Trump!" as players from the Classical Magnet School were attempting foul shots during Tuesday night's conference playoff game in Canton, about 15 miles northwest of Hartford. The student body at the Hartford school is predominantly black and Latino.

Canton officials held an assembly Wednesday to discuss the incident, which DiPippo said damaged the district's reputation as a welcoming community.

Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Hartford's acting superintendent, called the chants "unacceptable conduct." Classical Magnet School Principal Dr. Zandralyn Gordon said in a letter to parents that Coach Reggie Tucker met with players, who "have expressed their feelings." 

"Their voices are essential to helping us devise a course of action. I  want to confirm that we received a call from Canton’s school principal to apologize, as well as multiple emails from Canton students and families to share their support," Gordon said.

Senior basketball player Josh Powell explained to Eyewitness News what he heard on the court. 

"From my perspective, I'm an immigrant," Powell said. "I'm from Guatemala and it's disheartening that people I grew up with said something in a way that's hurtful." 

In the letter, Gordon said Torres-Rodriguez "will take every step necessary to ensure that our students and families are protected from physical harm and emotional harassment."

"We are hoping that we can turn this unfortunate experience into a constructive learning opportunity for everyone. If you have any ideas, questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office for further assistance.," Gordon said in the letter on Thursday. 

The Classical Magnet School won the semifinal game 48-47. They will play HPS school Sport and Medical Sciences in the NCCC final on Friday night.

The students from Canton said they plan to write an apology letter and show support to these players by going to their finals game. 

"We don't want that tarnishing the name of Canton High School and we want to put out a positive demonstration on how they are going to repair this," Canton High School Senior Abbe Skinner said. 

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.