Commission calls for transparency, more youth resources amid tortilla throwing controversy

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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County Human Relations Commission held a special meeting Monday night to discuss the alleged racially motivated events involving tortillas being thrown at a basketball game between Coronado High and Orange Glen High School.

It is the latest action in response to an incident that took place June 19 in a regional championship basketball game in which Coronado beat Escondido’s visiting Orange Glen in overtime. The incident received national attention, led to several investigations and saw Coronado High head basketball coach J.D. Laaperi ousted in a vote by the Coronado’s School District Board of Education.

Although the commission’s role is not to investigate or discipline, it plays an advisory role, which in this case means providing support to local youth and suggesting actions to prevent future occurrences, commission Chair Ellen Nash said.

Public speakers calling into the meeting were divided on the motivation behind the tortillas being tossed at Orange Glen, a predominantly Latino team.

“Luke stated there was no racial intent,” Mark Scannell said. “Again, Luke is a Mexican-American. Why are some questioning his motives and calling them racist?”

Meanwhile, Enrique Morones called in to dispute that argument.

“Racism isn’t determined by the person that does the racist act,” Morones said. “The racism is determined by the person that receives the racist act.”

The commission was established in May 2020 to promote positive human relations and respect in the county regardless of identifiers like religion, gender or race.

“We do not have the authority to tell the school or school district board members what to do,” commission member Pedro Anaya said. “We don’t have the authority to tell CIF what to do.”

However, the body unanimously agreed upon six action items. They include:

  1. Sending a letter to CIF and the San Diego County Board of Education looking for transparency and action;
  2. Focusing on existing youth human relations programming that has received county funding in the past to identify available resources;
  3. Expanding the District Attorney’s Youth Advisory Board and providing a youth liaison between the board and the county’s Human Relations Commission;
  4. Allocating financial resources for the development of youth human relations programming, such as internal initiatives, consultants and/or existing support. Also, encouraging San Diego County supervisors to prioritize equity programming in future budgets;
  5. Developing a countywide youth leadership program to address human relations issues with the goal of establishing programming by no later than summer 2022; and
  6. Identifying additional support services that can be deployed during youth related incidents of bias, bigotry and racism to provide support as needed.

CIF has been investigating the incident and is expected to issue a ruling by the end of the week.

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