A Black football player at Moline High School student has opted to speak out after he was forced to sit in a locker filled with banana peels. The student, who is still a minor, issued a statement as video of the incident circulated throughout social media.
"I love the football team I'm on and they're good guys. I know that personally. I talked to the people involved individually and they apologized. We had a heartfelt talk about it and I told them how I felt. So please don't harass, bully, or threaten them at all," the student said in a statement put together by the Rock Island County state's attorney's office.
"I want to make it known that I'm fine. Everyone is worried about me and showing concern for me and I really appreciate it. Second, can everyone please stop talking about the incident and video? I understand everyone wants justice for me and they want what they think is right to be done, but I already made my feelings known to the police and my friends about how I feel about everything."
The incident in question took place earlier this month. In an 11-second video, the player can be seen standing in front of the locker filled with banana peels as his teammates shout and scream at him. One person can even be heard threatening to break his knees if he didn't sit down. On April 8, the video began circulating through social media and police officers showed up to investigate the matter the following day. Moline Police Chief Darren Gault called the video a "disturbingly racist scene."
“I speak from the heart when I say we have a responsibility to teach them a better way. It’s awful to know a child was treated that way," Moline Mayor-Elect Sangeetha Rayapati said.
"It’s awful to know that that child will be marked forever by the incident and the disrespect they received. And it’s awful to know other children would see this as a joke."
Moving forward, the Moline Police Department and Moline-Coal Valley School District will conduct independent investigations regarding the matter.
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