A photo from an Alabama high school football pep rally on Friday has stirred up controversy across the internet over the weekend.
Posted on social media Saturday, the photo featured two Robertsdale High School students posing with the school’s mascot. In the photo, one of the students is holding a homemade sign that reads, “Put the Panic Back in Hispanic,” as the team prepared to take on the Spanish Fort High School Toros. The other, is holding a Donald Trump campaign banner that reads “Making America Great Again.”
The message on the first sign is being called racist across social media.
Trey Leggett, a Spanish Fort High School alumni, took to Facebook to express his distaste, writing “If this picture doesn’t make you sick please delete me. You will not be missed.”
Both posts received thousands of comments and shares from across the country.
The Baldwin County Public Schools superintendent Eddie Tyler put out a statement on the matter Saturday responding to the complaints.
“We are aware of a photo that appears to be taken at a Robertsdale High School football pep rally Friday Sept. 15 that is circulating on social media containing political banners and unacceptable language,” Tyler said. “School administrators, as well as my office, are following up on the matter.”
One of the students in the photo has since sought legal representation and has sent an apology letter to the Baldwin County School Board.
In the letter, the student writes:
”I am one of the girls in the picture at the Robertsdale High school pep rally. I had the sign that said “Put the “panic” back in Hispanic”.
Sir I would like to inform you that, that wasn’t my intention and was not meat for it to be taken that way. We played the Spanish Fort Toros on Friday night, I was meaning “panic the Toros” considering when I think Spanish I think Mexican or Hispanic. When I realized how people were taking it, I wasn’t going to bring it. But my friend who had it in his truck brought it to the bleachers, when one of the boys sitting near me saw it and held it up.
I do apologize for making our school look bad and I do understand any consequences I must face. But I also believe in my right of speech. I did not mean it in any kind of racial way, half of my family are Hispanic.
Thank you for your time reading this, I apologize for all the publicity and misunderstandings this has brought to our school.”