Tension is high in the small southern Minnesota town of Mapleton after racist remarks were allegedly made by school students, which was followed by an incident at a football game in which a man ripped a Black Lives Matter sign out of a woman's hands and tossed it over a railing.
"There was an incident at a football game on Friday, October 1, 2021, involving a few parents," Maple River Superintendent Dan Anderson said in a statement to Bring Me The News.
The Mankato Free Press reports that the source of the tension began last Friday when a white student at Maple River High School shouted "Blacks to the back." Laura Nusser, whose sons are Black, responded to the incident by bringing a Black Lives Matter sign to the homecoming football game that night. In a Facebook post, she said someone ripped the sign out of her hands and threw it over a railing.
Video of the sign being ripped from her possession was also posted to Facebook. Nusser said the man who took her sign also pushed her.
Nusser said was then was asked by the principal to leave the football game – police escorted her out – while the man who grabbed her sign and allegedly pushed her was allowed to stay.
Nusser then led a protest on Monday morning, during which a student allegedly drove by the protesters while displaying a Confederate flag and a Blue Lives Matter flag. Superintendent Anderson confirmed that an incident took place Monday but avoided discussing details due to data privacy regulations.
"We have investigated a related allegation that occurred on Monday, October 4, 2021. We have interviewed multiple students and any students violating district policy have been suspended," Anderson said. "Some of the students involved are not from Maple River, which limits our scope of authority to address their conduct."
The mother of the student who was suspended for driving the vehicle that displayed the Confederate flag argued to the Mankato Free Press that “the Confederate flag is not about racism, if anyone actually does their history."
But the Confederate flag is one of America's most enduring symbols of racism, given that the Confederacy was founded to preserve states' rights to own slaves, and its use has increasingly been adopted by white supremacists across the country.
"All students are welcome at Maple River. Behavior to the contrary has never been, nor will it ever be, tolerated. We will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure the safety and well-being of every student at Maple River," said Anderson.
Benjamin Honsey, chief of Mapleton Police Department, issued a statement saying the department will "continue to work on pending investigations and work toward de-escalating tensions within our community."