Local Coverage

Feb 26, 2013 8:50 PM by Josh Breslow

Knott County Basketball Players Victims Of Racism?

The guardians of two southeastern Kentucky high school basketball players say their boys are the victims of blatant racism. They say they fear the situation in Knott County has become violent and could get worse.

The chants of "USA! USA!" were heard loud and clear at Friday night's match up between Cordia High School and Knott County Central High School.

Jessica Flores and her husband, Eduardo are the guardians for Cordia High basketball players, Marlon King and Emmanuel Owootoah. They told LEX 18 that the chants were actually taunts aimed at both boys, who are black transfer students who came to Kentucky from Canada about three months ago.

"I was outraged and I was hurt for the boys," the teens' guardian, Jessica Flores said.

The night before the game, the couple said the teens were also tagged by Knott County Central students in pictures on Facebook and Twitter, showing a burning Canadian flag and a noose hanging from a flag with the words "*expletive* Canada."

A photo, also said to have been circulated, showed Cordia High coach and former UK player, Rodrick Rhodes with the words "back to the benches white boys."

"What kind of message are we sending to our youth that it's ok to send such atrocious material to other children?" said Eduardo Flores. "We're not here trying to claim that Knott County is racist or anything, but there is an undercurrent of racism that is involved with all of this."

"I mean, it's 2013. Nobody in America should have to put up with racism and bigotry," said Jessica Flores.

Making matters worse, the boys' second home had its glass door shot out Saturday. On Sunday, their mailbox was destroyed.

While there is no evidence to show the incidents are related, the Flores couple said they are fairly certain they are connected.

"If they're gonna do that, who knows what the next steps are and that is the main purpose of this because we want it stopped before it escalates into something worse," Jessica Flores said.

The principal at Knott County Central High School told LEX 18 that he is investigating the Facebook and Twitter posts. He said he only knows for sure that one student was involved. He added that the taunting has gone both ways between the schools and likely involves not just students, but maybe also fans and others in the community.

Knott Central's principal also said that the "USA" chants are open to interpretation because his team is the Patriots.

The superintendent of Knott County schools did not return calls made by LEX 18 seeking comment.


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