With a unanimous vote Thursday evening, the Meade School Board of Sturgis, S.D., made the decision to forfeit Sturgis Brown High School's homecoming football game against Pine Ridge and cancel the corresponding parade and dance.
The vote was taken in response to photographic evidence appearing Wednesday on social media that showed Sturgis students demolishing a run-down car that had been painted with what school officials identified as racially charged insults.
Images posted to social showed graffiti that read, "Go back to the rez," as well as a symbol that resembles a swastika, though some have said that it is meant to be two S's painted together to represent the Sturgis Scoopers.
According to Meade School District superintendent Don Kirkegaard, the “car bash” is a Sturgis homecoming tradition that was officially discontinued six years ago, but some students have carried on the unsanctioned event.
Some of the students involved in painting and smashing the car have been identified, but the school and local law enforcement are still working to obtain a complete list. Multiple students have already been handed a short-term suspension.
“We don’t want our school to be associated with racial comments. We want to send a message that this is not acceptable,” Kirkegaard told the Black Hills Pioneer.
In a press statement Thursday, the Meade School Board announced that “Administrators throughout the district are planning assemblies to address racism immediately. We are a diverse district with many races and backgrounds, which is why this situation is so painful. Because of the angst we feel, we are reaching out to the Pine Ridge School, community, and families, as well as all schools in the state of South Dakota to apologize and to encourage more cultural awareness.”
The school board met with the Sturgis Police Department Thursday morning to discuss the investigation and develop a plan of action.
The Sturgis Police Department also released a public statement, saying, “Please know that we are working closely with School Administration and we take this very seriously. The actions of a few do not represent Sturgis Brown High School or the community of Sturgis. We understand the anger being expressed towards this situation. Please give school officials time to look into and thoroughly investigate this incident.”