Weld Central officials deny reports of racism, Confederate flag display during football game | SummitDaily.com

Weld Central officials deny reports of racism, Confederate flag display during football game

Kelly Ragan
kragan@greeleytribune.com

A day after officials with Manual High School in Denver accused the Weld Central High School football team of using racial slurs during a game and displaying a Confederate flag, Weld Central officials denied the claims.

The Confederate flag, flown during the game between the two teams, touched off tense conflict on and off the field Friday night, and three players from Manual High School were injured, the Manual principal said in a community letter Saturday.

Players from Manual also told coaches that students on the visiting team, Weld Central High School, taunted them with racial slurs during tackles, according to principal Nick Dawkins' letter.

Weld Central, in Keenseburg, has a Rebel as a mascot. Dawkins said the team displayed the Confederate flag during the first quarter of the game, offending players from the Denver high school.

Greg Rabenhorst, Keenesburg Re-3J School District superintendent, and Dan Kennedy, principal of Weld Central High School, said in a statement Sunday there is no evidence to support claims made my Manual officials.

"Our eyewitness staff and community members present at the game report that this did not occur," they said in the statement. "Multiple school officials have viewed a video recording of the game, which contains footage of the Weld Central crowd. From our viewings, no signs of a Confederate flag exist."

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Rabenhorst and Kennedy also said in the statement that there was no evidence that any student athletes displayed racially motivated, inappropriate behavior. The Re-3J school board members and administrators do not condone any form of racism, they said.

Weld Central won the game 48-12.

Of the three Manual players injured during the game, one suffered a concussion and another was taken to a hospital with a leg injury. The students, Dawkins said, received treatment and will be fine.

The principal said he had contacted Weld Central's coaches and notified Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg and the school board.

Boasberg "is reaching out to the Weld County superintendent to express our concerns that such symbols of racism and hatred, and racial slurs, ought to have no place in athletics or in any part of our students' experiences," the letter stated.

"What happened at Friday night's game is unacceptable," he said.

In August, when controversy raged across the country about Confederate war monuments, the Weld Central Rebels mascot sparked some controversy of its own. Dueling petitions sprang up, one calling for school officials to change the mascot and another calling on the district to keep the mascot as it is.

At that time, Rabenhorst said Weld Central's rebel mascot used to appear with depictions of Confederate flags, but the district removed the flags years ago. When the district formed in the early 1960s, the high school choose the rebel mascot, but officials never selected an official image or depiction of its mascot, Rabenhorst said. Weld Central Middle School also has a rebel as its mascot.

Rabenhorst said the district's position is its rebel isn't a sign of racism, hate or violence, but one of school pride.

— The Denver Post contributed to this report.