LATINO VOICES

Camarillo High School Students Punished For 'U.S.A.' Chant Viewed As Offensive To Latinos (VIDEO)

Feb 14, 2013 | Updated Feb 14, 2013

Chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" have landed high school students in hot water again.

A group of California high school students wore American flag bandanas and led a round of patriotic chanting at a basketball game this month, sparking concerns that the display would be viewed as offensive to the majority-Latino visiting team, the Ventura County Star reports.

Latinos make up a large chunk of both student bodies, according to the California Department of Education's website -- 67 percent of Rio Mesa High and 37 percent of Camarillo. Non-Hispanic whites are not a majority of either student population.

The students defied instructions from an administrator to remove the bandanas, appearing at halftime to led the "U.S.A!" chant. The school responded by suspending them for five days, a decision that prompted a public protest. The suspension was later dropped.

But the two students leading the chanting -- Austin Medeiros and Stefan Valenzuela -- both have Spanish surnames. They say the incident wasn't intended to offend.

Check out the chant in the video below.

"We've done it always," Medeiros told the Ventura County Star. "It’s something we do. It’s the same group of friends. We’re all very patriotic."

“It has nothing to do with being patriotic or unpatriotic,” Superintendent of Oxnard Union School District Gabe Soumakian told Fox News. “It has to do with the fact that they are making a chant regarding that we are from the USA and you’re not. Whether that’s the implied intent, that’s the way it comes across.”

The episode recalled an incident last year in which fans from a mostly white high school basketball team in Texas were forced to apologize for chanting "U.S.A.!" after defeating a mostly Latino team.

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