A newspaper in Parsons, Kan., has gone viral with its report of an alleged racist incident that occurred during men’s and women’s basketball games at North Arkansas College (Northark) in Harrison, Ark.
Parsons Sun reporter Sean Frye detailed how fans at the game made monkey noises whenever the predominantly African-American teams of Labette Community College were on offense. However, a new statement provided to Talk Business & Politics by Northark has raised additional questions.
Frye wrote that the Sun had viewed “snippets of game footage” provided by an anonymous source that showed one person making crow caws — in reference to Jim Crow laws that were often used “to enforce segregation in the South during the late 1800s up through the civil rights movement of the 1960s,” Frye writes.
Later in the report, he refers to multiple fans making the monkey noises and pulls in background on Harrison as “the most racist town in America” (UK-based The Daily Mirror) and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s reference to Harrison as a town that is “a haven for white supremacists.”
Yahoo! picked up the story, and its version of events has garnered 1,161 reactions at the time of this post. At the heart of the matter is the video, and according to a new statement from Northark President Dr. Randy Esters, the college has yet to see it.
In Dr. Esters’ statement, provided to Talk Business & Politics by Micki Somers, director of public relations and marketing at the college, notes, “As you can imagine, we are very aware of the allegations in the article. We take those allegations very seriously and will investigate them. To thoroughly investigate, however, we need to view the video that contains the alleged offenses. If those offenses were made by Northark students or employees, we will take appropriate actions to ensure it does not happen in the future.”
Esters said the college has not received any complaints from anyone who attended the game, “including coaches, athletes, officials or members of the public.”
“This situation is truly unfortunate since we make every effort to be inclusive and welcoming to all of our students, community and visitors,” Esters said.
Talk Business & Politics asked Bethany Kendrick, director of public relations at Labette Community College, about the incident but had not received a response as of Monday afternoon. Frye also was asked whether Northark had received the footage to assist its investigation in light of the school’s statement, but he has not responded.