Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Louisville City School District's Superintendent.
Video shared only with News 5 shows four individuals dressed in banana costumes swarming the field at the end of Friday’s Alliance and Louisville football game, and Alliance parents say the costumes were not just a coincidence.
“I heard they [Alliance football players] were called monkeys. I heard they were called the n-word, I heard they were asked ‘What is it like to be black?’” said Montize Nicholson. “Those are the things I was told by the players.”
Montize and Curtis Nicholson were both at the game on Friday to watch their sons play when they spotted the banana costumes and said those were the only individuals dressed up.
News 5 reached out to Louisville schools for over 24 hours before our story aired. One day after our report, the high school's principal told News 5 it was a Halloween-themed night in the student section.
“I started hearing more and more people in the stands talking about how they were warned ahead of time that they may be called the n-word and other types of racially motivated phrases,” said Curtis.
The Nicholsons said there have been longstanding racial tensions when they play Louisville, and a Change.org petition with over 300 signatures cosigns the couple’s sentiments.
The petition calls for the discontinuation of Louisville vs. Alliance athletics due to racial incidents involving the Louisville City School District in the past.
“Given the history of Alliance and Louisville playing against each other and the racial tension on the field, I would personally like to see the two schools not even have to play each other anymore,” said Curtis.
Alliance City Schools shared the following statement with News 5 on behalf of the district's Superintendent Rob Gress:
We are aware that there is unrest in the community regarding last Friday night’s football game vs. Louisville, and we want to assure you that any and all allegations are taken seriously and thoroughly looked into.
Being a caring citizen is an important core value for us here at Alliance City Schools. We teach our students to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to expect others to do the same for them. We will always focus our work on promoting a positive culture that thrives on understanding, integrity and acceptance.
We are proud to be a part of such a diverse community where we interact with and appreciate all people, regardless of their race, orientation, religion or background. As Aviators, let’s continue to work together to make our community a better place for our future generations to live and grow."
Parents said both Alliance and Louisville City School Districts should be doing more.
“This is something that should be addressed from the top down and they [administration] should be letting them [students] know that we are not going to do this anymore and something needs to happen,” said Curtis.
The Louisville City School District Superintendent Michele Shaffer has released this statement a day after our story aired on News 5 at 11:
"We are aware of the allegations of misconduct at Friday night’s football game vs. Alliance. We take these concerns seriously and are thoroughly investigating the situation. We have been in constant contact with the administration at Alliance City Schools to be sure we are doing our diligence in this sensitive matter. We begin teaching the virtues of being an Upstander with our youngest students and how to show respect and compassion for others through the Character Strong program at our middle and high schools. We will continue to promote an inclusive environment where everyone is valued regardless of their race, orientation, religion or background. It is our goal that our students graduate with a high moral compass of honesty, integrity and kindness for all."
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.