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Kansas College Athletes Heckled with Racist Chants from Crowd, North Arkansas School Denies Allegations

Black players with the Labette Community College basketball team were reportedly heckled with loud crow caws from the crowd. (Image courtesy of Labette Athletics)

The men’s and women’s basketball teams from a Kansas college were subjected to racial intimidation as fans hurled chimp noises and crow caws at players, a coach who attended the game said.

The Labette Community College teams traveled to North Arkansas College for the games on Wednesday, Jan. 16, where the heckling allegedly occurred, The Kansas City Star reported. Snippets of game footage viewed by staff from newspaper the Parsons Sun is purported to show a fan of the North Arkansas team making crow sounds several times as Black Labette players made shots from the free throw line.

The chant was in reference to the strict segregation laws of the Jim Crow South, the paper reported.

“The opposing team will try to distract us, to cause us to lose our focus,” Labette president Mark Watkins told the Sun. “…But, as long as we continue to focus on utilizing our strength through diversity, we will overcome distractions, such as discrimination.”

Officials from North Arkansas said they found no proof of the alleged racial heckling, even after interviewing fans and reviewing its own game footage. The college also said it hasn’t received any complaints.

However, Jason Hinson, an assistant coach for the Labette men’s basketball team, insisted he heard the chants loud and clear during the men’s game earlier this week.

“I can assure you this isn’t a hoax,” Hinson told the Kansas City Star. “I heard the chants firsthand, both the ones directed towards me and the ones from across the gym.”

Video of the alleged incident ultimately went unpublished after the person who shot it asked to remain anonymous, an editor for The Sun told Yahoo Sports.

North Arkansas President Randy Esters has since issued a statement, insisting the school does not tolerate that kind of behavior.

“If those offenses were made by Northark students or employees, we will take appropriate actions to ensure it does not happen in the future,” Esters said following the allegations. “This situation is truly unfortunate since we make every effort to be inclusive and welcoming to all of our students, community and visitors.”

This isn’t the first instance for perceived racism in Harrison, Ark. however. A report by the  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last year labeled the city as a “haven for white supremacists”  while the Southern Poverty Law Center listed Harrison as the national headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan.

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