Michigan parent meeting about discrimination interrupted: 'Then why didn't you stay in Mexico?'
A Michigan school district's parent meeting about racial discrimination turned ugly Monday when a Latino man, speaking about the adversity that his kids had faced in the district, was reportedly met with heckling.
Adrian Iraola immigrated to Saline, Mich., from Mexico City in 1980 and sent all three of his children — now grown — to Saline Area Schools. Iraola was recounting to a group of parents the effect that the racial slurs had on his children when a man in the crowd yelled, “Then why didn’t you stay in Mexico?”
The exchange was captured on video and the man, identified as Tom Burtell, was asked to leave the meeting by another woman in the crowd.
“We wanted to tell the audience that this [kind of discrimination] was alive and well,” Iraola told The Washington Post . “We were very surprised to see that, right then and there, is the ignorance manifested by those comments.”
According to state data , Salina Area Schools is more than 85 percent white, while less than 2.5 percent Latino and 2 percent black.
The meeting itself came after football players in the district added their black teammates to a Snapchat group, allegedly introducing them by the N-word, according to the Post.
Lori Iraola, Adrian's wife, told the Post that they attended the meeting to inform parents that this wasn't an "isolated event."
Burtell would later say in the meeting that the district's diversity efforts were "ludicrous."
“You’re complaining about situations and this incident where somebody made a little tweet. Nobody got hurt in that, and that was done off campus," Burtell reportedly said. "That doesn’t concern the school system. Everybody has a right to free speech.”
Burtell's comments were largely meet with ire from the parents at the meeting, with one black parent countering that his comments were “indicative of what our kids are experiencing.”