A school marching band in Georgia claims it was an accident, when lettering on four tuba players’ instruments ended up spelling a racial slur during a recent performance.
Audience members were aghast when the racial slur for black people was spelled out in front of them on the field at a game at Brookwood High School in Gwinnett Country, Georgia. The band also reportedly played its entire routine with the offensive word displayed by the letters on tubas arranged in the front row of the band, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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But school authorities say that the students with the letters on their tubas did not follow protocol by leaving the letter covers over their instruments’ wide opening, also known as the bell.
“For those of you who have attended our games, you may have noticed that the sousaphones (a brass instrument similar to a tuba) wear covers in the stands to show school spirit,” Principal William Ford Jr. wrote in the letter to parents. “The covers spell out BRONCOS, and some of them feature our Bronco mascot.
“Our band does not wear these covers on the field because they shield the sound and because during the halftime show our band members move around the field and do not stand in the same order as they do in the stands,” Ford continued to explain. “With that in mind, when the sousaphone players took the field, they did not follow band rules and normal practice, and instead, they left the covers on their instruments.”
Ford insisted that the spelling of C-O-O-N was entirely accidental and occurred due to a breakdown in protocol, not anything malicious.
However, the principal also apologized for any offense caused.
“Unfortunately, as they performed and moved around the field, the letters on the instruments aligned to spell a completely unacceptable, racial term,” he continued.
“Not only was the appearance of this term during our halftime show hurtful and disrespectful to audience members, but it also was disappointing, as it does not reflect the standards and beliefs of our school and community,” the administrator added.
Some parents were outraged over the incident and called for the student musicians to be suspended or even expelled. But Principal Ford said no punishments were expected.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.