ANHS Accused of Racism At Football Game


Kate Meyers

Many major news outlets, including KTLA and ABC were present at the 9/12 board meeting.

Parents, students, major news outlets, and members of the community gathered at the CUSD board meeting last night to discuss the events of the September 7 football game at Aliso Niguel High School.

Last Friday, many went to a varsity football game against Santa Ana High School. The game was the annual 9/11 remembrance game, similar to SJHHS’ own last week, and students came sporting red, white, and blue. The school was also decorated with patriotic posters.

The theme and actions of the ANHS student body were met with outrage by the Santa Ana leadership and students, who felt the ANHS community was being racist. Many felt that a group of posters stating “we love red, we love white, we love blue,” as well as a poster saying “Aliso reps that red, white, and blue” were targeting Santa Ana’s largely hispanic student body. Some even alleged that the ANHS student section was chanting “build a wall.”

This is one of the posters at the game that many felt was intentionally racist.

After the first quarter, the principal of SAHS, Jeff Bishop, expressed concern to the ANHS principal, Deni Christensen, about the student body chanting “USA, USA, USA.” He said the people there to support SAHS felt uncomfortable by the students’ display.

Christensen immediately apologized and told her students to stop the chant. Bishop also claimed one of his students saw a poster reading “build a wall,” but the ANHS administration claims they never saw such poster, and if they had it would’ve been taken down immediately. They seemed to have resolved their issues.

“At that point, I believed that we had worked together as two public school principals to resolve the issues, and that it was truly a misunderstanding and a chance for mutual resolution,” said Christensen in an email to the ANHS community.

Apparently that wasn’t the case, because later that night Bishop turned to Facebook to condemn the administration and students of ANHS. His social media posts sparked a controversy that eventually made its way to national news. The Express reached out to Jeff Bishop to comment, but got no response. 

This is an example of one of the messages Jeff Bishop posted on his Facebook.

School administrators checked every sign before the game and took down two signs: one supporting former president Barack Obama and another supporting President Trump. Assistant principals are present in the student section at every game, and they allegedly saw no overt racism. The only political sign they saw was a “Trump 2020” sign that was immediately removed.

“There’s a lot of toxicity in this country right now, and that’s not something we can avoid. And I totally understand how they can see ‘USA USA’ as a demeaning chant. I can see that…The game was a commemorative game, and the theme was red white and blue…I don’t think that that game was about that,” said one of ANHS’ senior class president Joey Mingo.

Many of the ANHS members felt that the ANHS community was unfairly portrayed on social media and in the news. They allege that no racist sentiments were meant by the theme and  posters, and they’re school community was being exploited to make headlines.

Some in the community even fear the threats of violence against their school they have received, presumably due to Bishop’s comments on social media.

SJHHS has even changed the theme of this Friday’s football game theme from a “blackout” to a “bright-out” as an attempt to quell any sort of political or racial tie a “blackout” theme might have.

While the communities of SAHS, ANHS, and CUSD are shaken by the incident, many have hope that this conflict will provide an important teaching moment for everyone involved.