‘Build a wall!’ chant mars high school volleyball match in West Texas

One Archer City fan held a Trump-Pence sign during the volleyball match against Fort Hancock.
One Archer City fan held a Trump-Pence sign during the volleyball match against Fort Hancock. Courtesy

Tensions from last week’s election seeped into a girls volleyball match, when students from Archer City chanted “Build a wall!” and “Come and take it!” when playing Fort Hancock, a school on the Texas-Mexico border that is 97 percent Hispanic.

The chants were made during a Class 2A regional match on Friday in Snyder, according to the Wichita Falls-Times Record-News.

“Build a wall” refers to President-elect Donald Trump’s comments made during the campaign that he wants to build a wall on the Mexico border and “Come and take it” is a reference to the Battle of Gonzales, the first military engagement in the Texas Revolution against Mexico.

Archer City school district Superintendent C.D. Knobloch apologized to Fort Hancock school district officials and said disciplinary action would be taken against the students. He told the Star-Telegram that the heated emotions following last week’s election probably played a role in the incident.

“In my opinion it is stemming from the presidential election,” Knoblock said. “If we hadn’t had that election last week, this wouldn’t have happened. Our students are not racists. It’s as simple as that.”

Archer City, which last year had an enrollment of 384, is 83 percent white and 9 percent Hispanic, according to the Texas Education Agency.

“We’re sorry this happened,” Knobloch said. “The whole community is torn up about it.”

Archer City won the match, 3-0, to advance to this week’s state tournament in Austin, where the Lady Cats will play Thrall High School on Wednesday night.

‘We’re sorry this happened’

Fort Hancock, population 1,750, is in Hudspeth County on the Texas-Mexico border 72 miles southeast of El Paso. The school district had an enrollment of 434 and is 97 percent Hispanic, according to the TEA.

Fort Hancock school district Superintendent Jose Franco said he accepted Archer City’s apology.

Franco said he told his high school volleyball team that there “are a lot more good people than ignorant people out there who judge people by who they are and not the color of their skin.”

But Franco said he was troubled by the reaction during the match in Snyder.

“I guess what bothered me most was no adults, no officials did anything about it while the match was going on,” Franco said. “We come from a very competitive district where’s there’s plenty of trash talk and that’s just part of the game, having fun with it, but this is the first time it has ever crossed the line.”

If the presidential election had anything to do with Friday’s incident, Franco said the taunters are in for a surprise.

“Little did they know that Hudspeth County where we live went for Trump,” Franco said.

‘We have a wall’

And it wasn’t close. Sixth-seven percent of Hudspeth County, where Fort Hancock is located, voted for Trump while 28 percent voted for Hillary Clinton.

Archer County, which was made internationally famous by the movie The Last Picture Show, written by Archer City author Larry McMurtry, went even stronger for Trump, 88 percent to 9 percent for Clinton.

Franco also has firsthand knowledge of what a wall looks like.

“You know the wall is a joke; right?” Franco said. “My office sits less than a mile from the Rio Grande port of entry. We have a wall. It looks like something out of Jurassic Park. It goes two miles each way from the port of entry and then it ends in nothing.”

Franco is skeptical any more of the wall will be built.

“Some of the things Trump said were to fire up people,” Franco said. “It’s very expensive. It costs a million dollars a mile.”

Staff writer Diane Smith contributed to this report.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

Statement from Archer City

Archer City played Fort Hancock in a Regional Volleyball match on Friday, in Snyder. We were made aware by social media that our student fan group chanted “build a wall.” We believe the comment was made and we have taken action to prevent any future occurrence. We have been in contact with Fort Hancock administration and have made apologies. They are receptive to our apologies. Comments such as this are not representative of our school and community. This type of comment is extremely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Archer City Superintendent C.D. Knobloch