The homecoming dance, parade and football game at a Sturgis, South Dakota high school have been cancelled after social media showed “Go back to the Rez” painted on a car that was destroyed prior to the scheduled game with Pine Ridge High School for students on the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
“It’s the worst day I’ve ever had,” Sturgis Brown High School Principal Pete Wilson told the Associated Press.
Tensions are high as administrators attempt to contain the fallout.
“The incident has caused severe backlash, including several Facebook threats from people affiliated with both sides,” NBC Newscenter 1’s Sam Kraemer reported.
One particularly worrisome image spray-painted above the “go back to the Rez” message are the letters SS, which can refer to Schutzstaffel, Adolph Hitler’s paramilitary force. Skinheads and neo-Nazi’s often use such symbolism to express their views of white supremacy.
Snapchat posts of the incident included the hashtag, “F*ck Pine Ridge.”
“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 Meade District School Board, which oversees Sturgis, told NBC Newscenter 1. “It is our deepest desire that incidents, such as this one, will become history rather than current news.”
Some of the students affected by the homecoming cancellations agreed with that hope.
“I wish that we’d made better choices,” one student told NBC Newscenter 1, as her friend nodded in agreement. “I feel like Sturgis should’ve thought twice before we made that choice.”
Sturgis Brown High students bash a car ahead of Friday's Homecoming football game. But on the car, a controversial message toward the Scoopers' opponent, Pine Ridge. We'll have the details on an investigation into what happened, tonight on NC1: https://t.co/qwTpBaTkuy pic.twitter.com/OcNK9b6sJB
— Sam Kraemer (@NC1Sam) October 12, 2017