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Forum and wire reports, Published February 22 2013

Hockey fans dressed like Klan members identified, 'action is being taken,' Grand Forks school official says

GRAND FORKS – The principal of Red River High School here says appropriate action is being taken after three students briefly donned Ku Klux Klan-style white robes and hoods Friday night during a state hockey semifinal game against Fargo’s Davies High School.

The photo caused an uproar on Twitter when it was posted by 19-year-old Shane Schuster, who was seated with some friends at Ralph Engelstad Arena when something in the student section across the rink caught his eye.

“I thought, ‘Are those KKK hoods?’ I couldn’t believe it,” Schuster said. “I was shocked.”

Schuster said he focused his camera phone and snapped a photo, later uploading it to Twitter.

“We, as a school, are extremely disappointed with the behavior of these three students. This behavior is not a representation of our school or student body,” Red River High School Principal Kristopher G. Arason said in a statement Saturday.

He also released results of a school investigation, adding that administrators have contacted the three students and their parents, and “appropriate action is being taken.”

He did not say what that action would be.

The photo showed the student section during the game. Many students wore white clothing and white face paint, a tradition among some hockey fans called “whiteout” that was popularized by the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. But three of the students wore white robes and pointed hoods that bore striking resemblance to KKK uniforms.

Arason said the three students had not entered Ralph Engelstad Arena wearing the “inappropriate attire,” but donned them at 6:48 p.m. after the first goal. He said they wore the attire for 30 seconds to a minute.

“The students removed the attire after students around them told them how offensive their attire was,” he said.

Red River students attending Saturday night’s championship game against Grafton-Park River firmly denounced the three students’ choice to wear the costumes.

The three, who fellow students identified as freshmen, donned the apparel for less than a minute before other students in the section pressured them to take off the hoods, they said.

“They put them on for about 30 seconds,” Red River senior Barret Eickhof said. “Nobody did anything at first, but then after everyone saw it, we all told them to take it off.”

Alyssa Carlson, a junior, said she was “very ashamed” to be associated with the costumes. “Three guys ruined it for everybody,” she said.

Many of the Roughrider faithful said they thought the costumes were jokes that went wrong.

“It’s not like they’re part of (the KKK),” senior Lane Meyer said. “It was a joke.”

“But it wasn’t really a joke at all,” Eickhof added.

There were three Red River administrators and two arena security guards in the student section during all this, he said, though they learned of the attire only after the game.

Davies High School is named in honor of Ronald Davies, the former federal judge from Fargo whose 1957 rulings integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. – a pivotal event in the civil rights movement.

Tom Davies, the judge’s son, said Saturday he’s not sure if the three students wearing hoods and robes did so because they knew the story behind Davies High or if it was part of the whiteout. In either case, he said they were not thinking deeply.

“I’m not familiar with the whiteout actions and they cause me no concern,” said Davies, a retired Fargo municipal court judge known for his stern lectures toward young adults who appeared before him in court.

“The hooded portion is something the school administration should talk to the students about. They may not have attached any significance to their attire but, if they did, and it was racially motivated, then the school ought to take appropriate action, whatever that is,” he said.