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HomeNewsIdaho Police Investigate Racist Harassment of Utah Women’s Basketball Team

Idaho Police Investigate Racist Harassment of Utah Women’s Basketball Team

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Police in Coeur d’Alene, a northern Idaho town, are investigating reports of racial harassment. The investigation comes after the University of Utah’s women’s basketball coach said her team was targeted in a series of “racial hate crimes” while in town for the NCAA Tournament on March 21.

A picture of the Utah women's team who faced the racial harassment
Source: Pinterest

Following the report, video and audio evidence collected by investigators “corroborates” the claims. “We’ve identified an audio recording where the use of a racial slur was clearly audible,” police said. “We’re working to determine the context and conduct associated with its use to determine if it is a violation of the law.”

They added, “While we’re still reviewing evidence, it appears the use of a racial slur occurred more than one time.” Police also released a photo of a silver car in the area at the time of the incident. They encouraged anyone with information about the vehicle to contact detectives at the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

According to the police, detectives have “conducted interviews with the involved parties.” Furthermore, they have collected about 35 hours of surveillance video from businesses in the area as they investigate the incident. A spokesperson for the Department also revealed that the FBI planned to travel to Utah to interview the players.

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ALSO READ: Athletes Sue NCAA Over Transgender Participation Policy

At a news conference on Tuesday, April 9, Mayor Jim Hammond apologized to the team. The apology came after Utah athletics officials said a driver revved their engine and yelled the N-word at the team. According to reports, the team, the band members, and the cheerleaders went to dinner when the incident occurred. 

However, as the group left the restaurant, two trucks came nearby, and the drivers revved their engines. In addition, the drivers yelled racial slurs at the team. “We condemn, in the strongest terms, those horrendous acts of hatred,” Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force said.

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Stewart also called for the prosecution of the perpetrators once authorities identify them. “There is no place in our communities or the United States of America for such horrific acts,” he added. Police Chief Lee White also noted that local law enforcement is working with the FBI to speak with the victims.

White cited federal and state laws against malicious harassment and disorderly conduct. As earlier stated, the team was in the area to participate in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Washington.

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However, they had to stay in Idaho because hotel space was lacking. Following the incident, Coach Lynne Roberts spoke to reporters. “Racism is real, and it happens, and it’s awful,” Roberts said. 

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“For our players, whether they are white, Black, green, whatever — no one knew how to handle it.” “And it was really upsetting,” Roberts continued. “And for our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA Tournament environment, it’s messed up.”

While discussing the experience, Roberts noted that the NCAA and Gonzaga helped move the team to a different hotel. Afterward, Gonzaga, NCAA officials, and Idaho Gov. Brad Little swiftly issued statements apologizing to the team and condemning the harassment.

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