STURGIS, S.D. – A South Dakota high school has launched an investigation after photos posted on social media show students destroying a car with "Go back to the Rez" painted on the side, ahead of a football game against a school from a nearby Indian reservation.
Sturgis Brown High School is scheduled to play Pine Ridge High School, from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, on Friday. Sturgis Principal Pete Wilson said it's unclear if the game will be played. Pine Ridge Principal Michael Carlow wasn't immediately available for comment to The Associated Press.
Wilson told the AP that he learned of the posts Wednesday evening, saying the actions of a few reflect poorly on the school and that the situation "hurts the student body."
"It's the worst day I've ever had," said Wilson, adding that discipline would occur "after we figure out everything."
A photo shows people hitting a car with sledgehammers. The ritual used to be homecoming tradition but is no longer sponsored by the school, according to the newspaper.
Sturgis police Chief Geody VanDewater said the department is working with school officials to provide assistance. VanDewater added that "at this point there's not anything criminal," but police are "looking through it thoroughly before we make judgment."
Meade School District Superintendent Don Kirkegaard, the school board and the district's administration and staff apologized for the actions of a "few students" from the high school in a joint statement, the Rapid City Journal reported .
"We do not support, teach nor endorse the inappropriate behaviors and actions that occurred Wednesday evening. We are appalled and disgusted by the racist comments that appeared on social media," the statement said.
Wilson said here was an assembly Thursday morning at the school, which state fall 2016 enrollment numbers say had about 685 students. Wilson said officials are planning cultural awareness assemblies throughout the entire district.