Oregon Sen. Lew Frederick Condemns Racism at Portland-Area High School Basketball Game

"Yes," he says, "I'd call this a bias crime." Read his full remarks below.

Sen. Lew Frederick (Vivian Johnson)

Last week, members of the Parkrose High School girls' basketball team had racist remarks hurled at them during a game against St. Helens High School.

The girls and their coach, who spoke to FOX 12 about the harassment, say St. Helens fans called the athletes the n-word and made monkey noises at them before and after the game.

On Tuesday, Sen. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) shared the incident with colleagues during a chamber meeting in order to spark discussions on how the Legislature can address and protect people from bias crimes.

In his remarks, first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, Frederick describes the derogatory actions of the St. Helens fans as examples of the "blatant racism that we've seen explode during the last two years."

Watch Frederick's speech and read a transcript of his full address below.

"Colleagues, I'll start with a quote: 'The Parkrose school community, students and families deserve better and should expect a welcoming environment, free of racist comments, when they attend events. Disrespectful language and behavior does not represent the teachings of the St. Helens School District. I am personally mortified and embarrassed by the bigoted actions of those involved. It is upsetting that the ignorance of a few reflects on our entire community. If we stand silent in the presence of racism, we are culpable.'

That's Scot Stockwell, who's the superintendent of the St. Helens School District. He's an example of how we might deal with the blatant racism that we've seen explode during the last two years.

Two weeks ago, during a game, during and after a game, between the JV and the varsity girls basketball teams from Parkrose High School and St. Helens High School, at least three young men started yelling the n-word during the game and then followed the young women from Parkrose out to their bus, continuing the racist comments.

Yes, I'd call this a bias crime.

Consequences? Well, all three of the young men, two of whom were students at St. Helens, face school sanctions. The third is a student of a virtual charter school. Did adult fans or referees hear the yelling? If they did hear it, they didn't try to stop it. Should the St. Helens team forfeit the game or the season? Do they need more security at the games?

St Helens put together in September anti-racist training and now they're putting on joint intensive meetings with students and staff and administrators from both schools. Milwaukie High School planned to wear anti-racism shirts to the next game at St. Helens. The St. Helens students and their coaches asked them to bring enough shirts so that they could wear them too, and they did.

Scot Stockwell ended his letter, he said, 'I apologize on behalf of the St. Helens School District, but words cannot fix what happened. Only actions. It doesn't matter if this was one or 100 students. It doesn't matter if the bad actors were students attending the schools or not. It doesn't matter if those involved are community members or not. What matters is that we, as a school community, take responsibility and refuse to tolerate discrimination of any kind.'

Will this make a difference? I certainly hope so. Thank you."

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