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River Valley High football players out for rest of season after video re-enacting slave auction

By DeNeeka Hill, Daniel Macht

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    YUBA CITY, California (KCRA) — Several varsity football players at River Valley High School in Yuba City are out for the rest of the season after a video of them acting out a slave auction surfaced. Because there aren’t enough players now, the varsity team will also forfeit the rest of the season as well.

“Re-enacting a slave sale as a prank tells us that we have a great deal of work to do with our students so they can distinguish between intent and impact,” the Yuba City Unified School District said in a release. “They may have thought this skit was funny, but it is not; it is unacceptable and requires us to look honestly and deeply at issues of systemic racism.”

River Valley High School’s varsity game on Friday was forfeited when the district first announced it was investigating the video. The school district said it received a copy of the recording showing members of the River Valley High School football team acting out the “reprehensible act.”

“The recording clearly demonstrates that this situation was orchestrated and organized, which underscores my concern that students spent time contemplating this terrible act without the slightest regard that this action is hateful and hurtful,” Superintendent Doreen Osumi said in a statement to KCRA 3. “They may argue that it was a joke, and they intended no harm, but the fact is that this is not only harmful, it is disgraceful.”

KCRA 3 has obtained a copy of the video that has since been deleted. It shows about a dozen students pointing and yelling dollar amounts at three Black students standing in their underwear and up against a wall.

“It just really sucks. We are in 2022 and this is still happening, and it sucks because it’s like we are showing other generations that are going to be coming up that it’s okay, when it’s not okay. This is not okay,” said Cassandra Munoz, a former River Valley student.

The district said it was investigating which players were involved. Osumi offered “our support and sincere regard for the humiliation and anger that this must be causing.”

She said that in addition to Friday’s game against Woodcreek being canceled, the district would work with River Valley’s coaches on better training to “act with character and dignity at all times.”

“They need counseling or something. We can help them but this should not happen again,” said one River Valley mom, picking her sons up from school.

Woodcreek is now set to play Hiram Johnson on Friday, according to Maxpreps.

The California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees high school sports, told KCRA 3 it supported the decision by River Valley administrators and the district to “promptly address” students ‘ misconduct.

“Discrimination in any form or any acts that are disrespectful or demeaning are unacceptable and are not consistent with the principles of the CIF,” a spokesperson said.

This comes after another high school football team in the region had games canceled over off-field behavior.

Amador High School’s team is out for the rest of the season following what the district called an “inappropriate group chat thread.”

KCRA 3 has not been able to independently confirm the contents of the chat thread.

Correction (Sept. 30, 2022): An earlier version of this story misstated the county where River Valley High is located.

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