Coach quits, team’s season canceled after racist ‘monkey’ note sent to high school player

A girls basketball player found an ugly, anononymous note in her gym bag

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A Minnesota high school basketball coach has resigned, and a team canceled the rest of its season after a player found a racist note in her gym bag.

KSTP-TV reported the note said, “Get off our team, monkey,” with “monkey” underlined twice.

Demondi Johnson, the girls’ coach at Prior Lake High School, announced on Twitter February 23 he would step down.

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“I will never sit down to racism and will always stand up for those who look like me,” Johnson said. “I hope that those involved can be educated, be held accountable, heal their hearts of hatred, and learn to love those who look different from them.”

The Prior Lake incident marks the latest high-profile racist incident at a Minnesota high school in just over a week.

On February 15, Andrew Ewald, the athletic director at St. Louis Park High School, said in a letter his school would no longer compete with New Prague High School because of racist incidents. Ewald said a player on his team was subjected to monkey sounds and racist taunts while playing in a hockey game.

That same day, people in the stands at the New Prague and Robbinsdale Cooper girls basketball game reportedly subjected Black players to monkey sounds, according to KARE-TV.

New Prague Superintendent Tim Dittberner told KARE-TV, “We have to change our response because it hasn’t been good enough. It’s going to be a process.”

On February 24, the Minnesota State High School League announced it would launch an initiative to “improve behavior at high school events as well as schools in general,” according to a press release. It wants to develop a code of conduct, raise awareness about race bullying, and gender and establish best practices to stop harmful behaviors. 

“Mistreatment of anyone on any basis is not only intolerable, it is something we, as educational leaders, unequivocally condemn,” the statement said. “Racial, religious, or sexual harassment is simply unacceptable in our schools.

Prior Lake has been plagued by racist incidents in the past. Last year, the district made national headlines when two students were caught on video using racial slurs to berate a Black student. The incident went viral and led to protests on campus and in downtown Minneapolis. 

Teri Staloch, the superintendent of the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools, announced February 23 that she’s resigning to work in private industy, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

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