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Task Force recommends Charles City leave athletic conference after racist incident this summer

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Jeremiah Chapman

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (KWWL) -- After a Charles City player faced racist and bigoted comments made by opposing fans during a summer baseball game against Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District, a district task force has recommended that the school leave the Northeast Iowa Conference and start its athletic conference.

The task force was formed this summer. It included district leadership, students, coaches, parents, and a facilitator from outside the district. Jeremiah Chapman, the Charles City player who faced racist comments, and his mother were also a part of it.

While standing in the center field, Chapman said fans screamed things like “Get back to the fields!” and “You’re only here because of George Floyd" at him. In July, he told KWWL it was not the first time he has dealt with comments like this, but he said comments in the past were not as hurtful as these ones.

"They said 'I should have been George Floyd.' That really hurt because he just recently passed, and that's basically them saying to me that they wish I was dead," he said. "It really hurt me to hear them say 'go back to the fields,' like I've never worked in the fields before ever in my life."

The task force made the recommendation during the school board meeting on Monday night.

"It is a problem that we have had for years on years. I mean it is before our time here," Cole White, a Charles City senior and member of the task force, said. "And it is great to be part of something that is part of a bigger change. Like it is bigger than all of us."

The Charles City superintendent says the July incident was one of the reasons for the recommendation, but there is more to it.

They also looked at previous incidents and the sustainability of the conference overall.

After Oelwein left the conference, they are at six teams, which is the bare minimum requirement.

The superintendent says ten local schools have expressed interest in joining, but he is not able to offer specifics. The school board is expected to vote on a decision later this fall.

"Whatever we do, it will be focused on a conference of character, focused on the human side of the kids" Superintendent Mike Fisher said.

It could take up to two years to create the new league. For seniors like Jeremiah, it's a chance to make a change to help generations of students to come.

"I have younger brothers and sisters," Chapman said. "They won't have to go to away game or even at home and worry about people saying stuff to them and bringing them down."

For its part, Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District officials said it had taken "appropriate measures in response to the incident."

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Daniel Perreault

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