Mount Vernon Remains Outraged Over Racist Tweets

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Mount Vernon parents have been unwavering in their support of the boys basketball team.
Mount Vernon parents have been unwavering in their support of the boys basketball team. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
City, state and school officials at Friday's press conference in Mount Vernon.
City, state and school officials at Friday's press conference in Mount Vernon. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
Mount Vernon parent Willie Jenkins.
Mount Vernon parent Willie Jenkins.

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Although their season ended with a disappointing overtime loss on Saturday, the Mount Vernon High School varsity boys basketball team is still a hot topic of debate after players were targeted in racially charged Tweets following the Section 1 championship semifinal on Feb. 27.

So far, eight Mahopac students have been suspended after logging onto Twitter to exchange hate after Mahopac lost to the Knights 43-40 in the tournament.

Some of the tamest Tweets read, “That’s why you shouldn’t let monkeys out of their cages,” and “tough loss boys, but at least we can talk to our dads about it.” Another included a picture of pennies, intimating that it was a representation of a Mount Vernon family’s income.

More than two weeks after the incident, parents and residents remain incensed that the city, school district, and players were cyber bullied over the social media website.

“The whole thing is very disturbing and there’s no excuse for blatant racism like this, not in today’s world,” Willie Jenkins, who has two children in the district, said. “Sports should bring our kids together, it shouldn’t be something that divides us.”

According to Mount Vernon interim Superintendent Judith Johnson – who announced a call to action on Friday – racist remarks were also exchanged on the court, and allegedly a Confederate flag was waiving in the stands. The Mahopac students section, whose number neared 400 on game day, were decked out in all white and turned their backs when the Knights were introduced.

Officials at the Mahopac School District have asserted that both schools were at fault, and that Mount Vernon cheerleaders and fans were part of the pandemonium.

Sen. Gregory Ball (R-40) said that both school districts need to “take decisive, professional action,” though Johnson claims that Mount Vernon’s investigation into the incident has presented no evidence that her district is at fault.

“Mount Vernon is equally responsible for the toxic environment that was unfortunately created,” he said in a statement. “Mount Vernon must also be held responsible for sadly, they too, exhibited horrific behavior toward students, cheerleaders and athletes.

Mahopac parents have expressed concern that the sins of the few will cast a light over the entire district and town. Johnson has gone on record as stating that she supports a one-year ban for the basketball team.

“What happened cannot be tolerated, but I hope the entire district isn’t labeled as ‘racist’ because of the actions of a handful of teenagers,” Thomas Brennan said on Friday. “What happened is terrible, but I feel like it was a case of youthful exuberance, not blatant racism.”

Johnson and the entire Mount Vernon School District have been celebrated by elected officials for facing the incident head-on while the team continued its state tournament run.

“I applaud Mount Vernon for not sweeping this under the rug and bringing it to light,” Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow (D-89), said. “There is nothing funny about this, and it’s not a joke. Jokes are meant to be funny.”

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Comments (15)

It appears that the school authorities have seen the problems and have taken immediate action to correct the situation. It is quite noteworthy that they have instituted programs of understanding for most grade levels and schools. They have suspended the known students who violated the rules. They have opened up the channels of communications to rectify the wrong.

In my city of Mount Vernon, I have not heard of any forums addressing this problem. I only see and hear political rhetoric about lawsuits and attempts to put guilt trips on others. Are Mount Vernon adult men, seen taunting in the video, setting the examples for our Mount Vernon children to follow? How does anyone explain, to the Mount Vernon children, the actions of Mount Vernon immature adults? A “teachable moment” for who?

In Mount Vernon school systems do forums exist on minority contributions and accomplishments to the American society? Do forums exist on pride and how to maintain that pride in a non-violent manner? Are Mount Vernon students encouraged to standup and be heard when their rights have been violated? Are they encouraged NEVER TO BECOME THE VICTIMS of discouraging acts by others?

Yes, Ms Johnson, this is a teachable moment, not for America, but for the district you command.

Don't expect to hear anything sensible from Ms. Johnson. She's following orders from Mayor Ernie Davis, who jumps at any and every opportunity to play the race card.

Mount Vernon's Johnson: Racist Tweets Are 'A Teachable Moment For America'
The superintendent may want to change her mind about who should be sanctioned.

The Caucasian gentleman, from Mahopac, who shot the video came on and explained exactly what he saw and taped at the basketball game.

Well MOUNT VERNON SCHOOL board and superintendent, perhaps you may want to set up evening classes instructing adults on PROPER behavior at high school sports events.

Well Mount Vernon POLITICIANS AND DEMOCRAT MACHINERY, you may want to instruct the Mount Vernon ex-mayor, on proper conduct at high school sporting events.

PERHAPS THE STUDENTS OF THE HIGH SCHOOL SHOULD BE PRAISED for their mature behavior under adverse conditions. They have set the example, for adults caught on tape behaving badly, to follow.

ALL this grandstanding and racial rhetoric, concerning, mindless teenage tweets, may be necessary in the eyes of many, but the adults caught on tape are not without guilt.

The truth has finally been revealed should this superintendent be calling for the sanctioning of the Mahopac ball club?

Oh, by the way, the gentleman’s (who took the video) spouse is of African Descent and their children are BI-racial.

Be careful what you wish for!


Is it me, or does anyone notice how the politicians are attempting to benefit from this incident? Mount Vernon students hold your heads high and never become victimized by mindless utterances of others. Do not let others define you.

I've noticed how the politicians are "attempting to benefit from this incident". Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis is the main culprit, always jumping on any opportunity to play the race card, whether or not it's justified.

what exactly was the "horrific behaviour" of the Mount Vernon students???

Check the video I see grown people reacting but not students.

The Mount Vernon students had best get used to it. The fact they're from Mount Vernon is a stigma they will carry as they enter adulthood. And much of it has nothing to do with racial identity. Rather, it has everything to do with the simple fact that they're from Mount Vernon - the city where the people allow a corrupt administration to preside over the will of the people. The city where the people allow a corrupt school district to destroy the educational process.

What on earth does talking about letting people out of cages and throwing around vicious stereotypes about family and income have to do with Mount Vernon politics?
I'm taken aback by how casually these remarks seem to be taken-- it's just sports? It's exuberance? Blame the victim? Are you kidding--this could be jews, blacks, gays,mentally/physically disabled. Parents get a grip, be appalled!

But it has a whole lot to do with tweets. Corruption in Mount Vernon and
taxes are totally different subjects. Students can overcome the stigmas related to the school system. Most citizens cannot overcome the tax burden imposed on the property owners. I believe the people have no options when they are controlled by machine politics, but then again this is truly off topic.

Do you really believe this was the first time that allegedly racist tweets were posted in regards to the Mount Vernon sports teams? It goes both ways too. And whatever, it's high school sports, there's always harsh and rude comments being traded on the field and on the court. The only reason this is being amplified is to divert attention away from other issues. Contrary to Judith Johnson's allegations, nobody's civil rights were violated. The MV team continued to play exceptionally well, and won the game.

Sounds familiar, if you read my posts you will find that we are on the same plain.

Teamwork won the game (never take the roles of victims!) Now, teach your children well.

Hopefully, these mindless tweets will not stir up racial bias should the schools meet again on the various fields of competition.
I’m sure the teaching professionals will counsel the students from both schools, that name-calling (be it racial or otherwise) and brainless tweets can incite hatred and violence.
It’s very unfortunate that the actions of a few can affect so many. I do not believe that history should be taught on these forums (we see it and live it in our everyday lives,) instead competent teachers should teach it in the classrooms and capable parents should teach it in their homes.
Do not allow these tweets of animus to become the tale of two cities.