Racist taunts follow Iowa’s Storm Lake Tornadoes

The Storm Lake Tornadoes went to Spencer, Iowa last Friday to play some basketball and were taunted with racist chants, a report says. It’s not the first time Storm Lake’s kids have heard them. They’re from one of Iowa’s few schools with a student body that’s mostly non-white.

Many of the Spencer students dressed in red, white, and blue and chanted “U-S-A”, waved their keys and shouted “lock your car”, and reportedly shouted “go back where you came from,” the superintendents of both schools confirm. That latter chant is the same one Spencer’s kids shouted at Storm Lake players during a football game last fall.

Spencer superintendent Terry Hemann invoked a common phrase when he talked to the Des Moines Register.

“This isn’t what Spencer or Spencer schools are about. It’s not what we believe in,” Hemann said. “We had some students that made some poor decisions and we’re using this as a learning opportunity and making better choices at the next opportunity.”

“To take the time and to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is something kids are learning, and hopefully we’re teaching that,” Hemann said.

Storm Lake’s principal said the game was happening on Spencer’s “USA Night” and thinks maybe the chants weren’t directed at Storm Lake’s players, and that some parents didn’t seem too upset by the evening.

“We’re different than other communities in northwest Iowa and most communities in Iowa,” Storm Lake Superintendent Carl Turner told the Register. “Because we’re different, people jump to conclusions about us, but all I ask people is give us a chance before you pass judgment.”

Archive: In Iowa town, come for the basketball, stay for the racism

  • KTFoley

    Second time, directed at the same team? I’d take a long hard look at that “not what we’re about” line.

    This stuff doesn’t arrive magically and it doesn’t go away magically either.

    • I’m in the “it’s what you’re about until it doesn’t happen” caucus. Especially if you have to teach your kids how NOT to be racist.

    • I was about to type the exact same thing regarding this.

  • Chris

    Stuff like this is why I cringe anytime someone uses “heartland” to describe the rural midwest.

    • Jerry

      No reason to assume it’s a healthy heart.

  • Jerry

    When I drove to Omaha last summer, I saw a lot of Confederate flags in western Iowa. Which should be surprising because Iowa was one of the staunchest defenders of the Union, so they don’t really have the stupid heritage defense. That leaves hate as the only reason to fly it.

    • KTFoley

      The Washington Post published this today.
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/01/26/feature/traveling-while-black-why-some-americans-are-afraid-to-explore-their-own-country/?utm_term=.b1020e9b4fbd

      Stopped me dead cold at this bit:
      James Loewen, author of “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism,” said he has been astounded by his research on the prevalence of sundown towns, all-white communities where unofficial rules forbade black Americans after dark. […] Sundown towns were a Northern phenomenon, said Loewen, who continues to locate municipalities with such histories. […] “In Illinois, I’m up to 507. In Mississippi, I’m at three,” he said.

      • jon

        I grew up in Illinois… I went to church in chicago as I grew up.
        The neighborhood where the church was no house was ever listed for sale.
        There were no yard signs making houses as being for sale.
        After some lawsuits in the 90’s it turned out that the real estate agents working the area had a deal with each other… no house was listed, but they were shared with real estate agents in the neighborhood, and they were only every shown to white families.

        While the houses have been sold to minorities for almost 20 years now (thanks to the lawsuit) I suspect many of the houses still aren’t volunteered as options to non-whites.
        The neighborhood remains 90% white, unlike the surrounding neighborhoods that are a much more diverse mix.

        When black lives matter protest there, they were met with sizable counter protests, and violence…
        The neighborhood is the only one in chicago land to vote for trump by a wide majority (something like 70%, which is crazy in dark blue chicago land).

        The professions that are over represented in that neighborhood’s residents? Police and firefighters.
        Chicago has a residency restriction for police and firefighters, if you want to work in the city you have to live there.

  • Take a look at the U.S Representative that these people elected, Steve King. His Wikipedia page pretty much confirms that he represents the people of Storm Lake pretty well, given that “it’s what they’re about”. We were in Des Moines for a funeral a while back, a bit over a year ago, and I saw King on the local TV news. I remember thinking at the time that he was quite a piece of work and wondered who would elect a guy like that.

    • Jerry

      There are two famous people who can be called Stephen (Steven) King. One is really terrifying, and the other is a writer of horror stories.

      • The writer of horror stories is a good guy who also loves corgis.

  • Jeff

    I’m thinking they should change their mascot from Tornadoes to Eagles and we could repurpose some of the Philly fans.

  • Angry Jonny

    It’s the 21st century. These kids are learning it from someone who refuses to live in it.