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Black baseball player taunted on field, ‘you should’ve been George Floyd’

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (FOX 47) -- Jeremiah Chapman is a four sport athlete; playing baseball, football, basketball and running track at Charles City High School. The Black multi-sport athlete and soon to be senior is familiar with the inevitable trash talk that comes in the world of sports, but he wasn't prepared for the words hurled at him during a double header game last week against Waverly-Shell Rock High School.

"I have never heard comments like this, said throughout all my life playing sports," Jeremiah said. "There was one comment last year during baseball, but that was nowhere near what was said this time."

It was after the fourth or fifth inning where things started to change for the 17-year-old.

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"They started calling me Colin," Jeremiah Chapman said "...That made me assume they are talking about Colin Kapernick."

"They started calling me Colin," Jeremiah said "...That made me assume they are talking about Colin Kapernick."

Then, it escalated a bit, taunts from the opposing stands telling Jeremiah to "go back to the fields."

"I caught another foul ball and then the comment came out that I should've been George Floyd," Jeremiah said. "And that's what really hit me, especially the time. Going through my head, I was like why?"

Jeremiah says the words cut deep. While he isn't sure where the source of the taunting came from, he believes they were players from Waverly.

"[After the game] I got into the van, and I put my stuff over my face and was crying," Jeremiah said. "I texted my mom and said I don't want to play baseball anymore. I don't want to do sports anymore."

"My son loves sports so much," Jeremiah's mother, Keisha Cunnings said. "To hear him say that, hurt."

"Kids pick things up from other people around them," Cunnings continued. "This is clearly something they've heard or said before and they thought it was okay or appropriate to say at this time, and that's what frustrates me."

Both Charles City School District and Waverly-Shell Rock District acknowledged the incident.

Charles City School District sent out a statement of support to families and staff Wednesday, saying the incident was unacceptable and quote: "Our students must know we have their backs regardless of the circumstances and that we are fighting shoulder to shoulder with them to end oppression and to create the world that we know is possible. Our state and nation needs to know that our thoughts, words, and actions matter. We must do better. We must be better."

"Our superintendent and the senior leadership of our schools took this very seriously, they were like lets get on it," Cunnings said. "All of those things made me feel like, okay, this is exactly where we need to be. If I didn't know then, I know now, the people in our community really care and that means the world to us."

As for the students who were reportedly doing the taunting, Waverly-Shell Rock School District released a statement on Facebook Thursday morning. It says, in part, quote: "This behavior is unacceptable. We make no excuses, because there are none…..We can’t undo what’s been done. But we are using this as a learning experience for the responsible party and, we hope, for many others in our schools and communities."

While Cunnings believes the apology was warranted, it isn't enough.

"I don't want to hear an apology," Cunnings said. "An apology without action, to me is irrelevant. So you're just posting a public statement saying you're sorry. Now what?"

Cunnings shared her heart on twitter Wednesday, with a tweet that reads: "This is my boy! He is kind, sweet and talented.. if you can’t see beyond his skin color then sucks for you! And just and FYI...he has never worked on a field...his name is Jeremiah not Colin...he doesn’t care who you support politically..and he doesn’t remind you of George Floyd!"

Support flooded in.

"This overwhelming support that we are getting, it just reassures that there are more good people than there are bad people in the world." Cunnings said.

Cunnings adds "I didn't expect for it to blow up like this at all."

At last check, the tweet more than 3,400 likes.

"I was furious, because the mama bear in me was like no, oh no, not my kid," Cunnings said. "And then the other part of me was like, okay, how are we going to move forward from this? What are you going to learn from this? How are you going to move past this? Is this going to make you stronger? Is this going to take you down? What are you going to do?"

As for what Jeremiah is going to do? It's not going to stop him, from enjoying his senior year.

"I'm gonna keep playing baseball. I like it. Everyone's got my back, I have everyone; family, friends, teammates, coaches," Jeremiah said. "I'm going to keep being me. I am not going to let this bring me down and stopping me from doing stuff that I love."

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Beret Leone

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