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'I gave into the peer pressure' | River Valley High student-athletes involved in slave auction speak out

The students seen in the video explained why they participated and how they were punished.

YUBA CITY, Calif. — For the first time, the students involved in a racist viral video that outraged the community and cost River Valley High School's varsity team their football season are speaking out.

The video depicts a "prank slave auction" in which white and light-skinned players can be seen auctioning off their Black teammates.

Three students who appeared in that video came forward at a Greater Sacramento NAACP press conference explaining what happened and apologizing for the incident.

A student named Alex, a senior, described the peer pressure that he and other students of color felt to go along with what's been described as a "prank slave auction."

"To get them off my back and stop bugging me about it, I gave into the peer pressure that I was facing at the moment," he said.

Adrian, a sophomore student, also described what he felt.

"When the video was being made, I did not feel good about it, and I just froze. I was just trying to get it over with so I could get to practice," he said.

The NAACP called the high schoolers and their parents brave for coming forward. All 12 students who appeared in the video faced three-day suspensions and were kicked off the varsity football team.

"I am hurt that the school moved so quickly to punish us instead of taking their time to understand the situation better," Adrian's father said. 

"There were many children who were on the team who had no involvement in the video. Their season is gone as well," he added. 

The NAACP is also meeting with the school’s principal and Yuba City School District board members to address how the students were punished this week.

“We want to address the inequity in punishment, as some students received a three-day suspension, while others received a one-day suspension. We want to collaborate with schools and school districts in our region to help educate the students on the effects of racist behavior and implement regulations that ensure the safety of students of color. We need to ensure that we educate students on the history of Black Americans in this country,” said President Betty Williams. "This hateful behavior will not be tolerated and will be fully investigated, and findings reported as we move forward in trying to understand why this behavior continues to grow within our local school districts."

The NAACP has applauded the school district for being receptive to their concerns. They want restorative practices and more robust Black history studies and ways to address the school environment that led to the situation in the first place.

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