Students who used racist slur in video with assistant coach at Spangdahlem Air Base are under investigation
Stars and Stripes March 7, 2023
Updated March 8, 2023, 11:05 a.m. Central European Time
Spangdahlem High School baseball players who were shown on video chanting racial slurs and a volunteer assistant coach who watched them could face disciplinary action, Air Force and school officials said Tuesday.
The 19-second Instagram video, which also was posted to YouTube, shows five people standing inside a baseball dugout.
It begins with someone saying that “if you say (slur) we can’t keep recording this.”
After saying the slur, a player then yells, “Who do we hate?” and another yells, “Who do we want to kill?”
Both times, some in the group pump their fists, then shout a derogatory slur referring to Black people and laugh.
The words “no, stop it,” are then heard, though it’s unclear who says them.
“Yo guys, this is our coach right here,” another student said, pointing to a bearded man wearing a baseball cap. The coach starts running away and the video ends.
The video has since been taken down, with YouTube noting that it violated the company’s policy on hate speech.
The volunteer assistant coach appearing in the video with the students “was removed from that role immediately,” Stephen Smith, a spokesman for the Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe, said Wednesday.
The coach, who wasn’t named, isn’t a DODEA employee, Smith said.
When asked if the students were still in school, Smith said he could not “comment further on any potential disciplinary action,” noting the situation was still under review. School was canceled Wednesday due to poor winter weather in the area.
The incident occurred over the weekend at a baseball field on base, but the players were not involved in a DODEA-sanctioned gathering or event, Smith said.
“Discriminatory behavior by anyone associated with our schools is unacceptable ... school leadership is working closely with installation command on the way forward regarding this unfortunate situation,” Smith said in a statement.
The video depicted “disgusting chants and racist remarks,” said a Facebook message Monday night from Air Force Col. Leslie Hauck, the 52nd Fighter Wing commander.
“The type of behavior represented in the social media post is completely unacceptable within Saber Nation and it does not reflect the values of the Spangdahlem AB community,” Hauck said in a statement to Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. “It is currently under investigation and being taken very seriously by all agencies involved.”
Wing leaders and the high school principal, Anneliese Hyde, were scheduled to host a town hall meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Club Eifel to address the incident, the command team said. DODEA also is planning student-only assemblies with base agencies and school leadership in response to the video, base officials said.
“This type of behavior is not tolerated in our Spangdahlem community or in our Air Force,” the command message said. “DODEA and wing leaders will work with base investigators and German authorities to hold individuals accountable.”
A note addressed to “Sentinel families” on Monday from high school administrators said the school would support base agencies in the ongoing investigation.
U.S. military installations worldwide, including Spangdahlem, celebrated Black History Month in February.