Sign targeting Hispanics sparks controversy

Posted at 10:09 AM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 10:09:33-04

ROBERTSDALE, AL (WPMI/CNN) - An Alabama high school's pep rally sign is causing controversy after a racial message went viral.

The sign said, "Put the panic back in Hispanic" and a picture shows it being held by a student next to another one with a Donald Trump campaign banner.

"That's just disrespectful," Robertsdale student Jennifer Lopez said. "That's just ignorant."

Lopez she felt like the sign was targeting her because of her ethnicity.

"I really don't see a point in why they did that because there's really not that many Hispanics really in our school," Lopez said. "They knew it was Hispanic month."

Domingo Soto, a lawyer representing one of the girls, said the sign was meant to be a pun over Robertsdale's upcoming game against Spanish Fort.

"What happened is this is a kind of sophomoric or juvenile joke that's kind of gotten out of control," Soto said. "Spanish Fort - Spanish and Hispanic - and it was a pun. The Trump thing just kind of put it in context of the actual racial slight."

Trump made immigration across the Mexican border a central piece of his presidential campaign.

Myeshia Parker reached out to the Robertsdale school district even though she is a student in Foley.

"That's bullying to me," Parker said. "I feel like nobody should be bullied at all because somebody can take it the wrong way. You don't know how someone would react to it. This is not OK whatsoever."

Baldwin County's superintendent responded to Parker's complaint and said the sign contained "unacceptable language" and the district will be "following up" on the issue.

Soto said the girl behind the image has expressed remorse over the sign and its message being received in an unintended way.

"She's been mortified and this is not a little racist girl," Soto said. "She never intended for it to be racist."

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