Friday, January 27, 2012

Haka = Pepper Spray?

Just a few weeks ago, we blogged about the Pacific Islander-influence on local football culture in the Texas town of Euliss, including the incorporation of the haka as a regular part of the games.  I couldn't help but think of the football team at Euliss when reading about another high school football game in Utah, where a group of Pacific Islanders were pepper sprayed by the police.

Their offense?  Performing the haka.  

According to an Associated Press article, the police involved in the incident stated that they had "never even heard of such a thing" and feared that the haka was going to cause a riot.  Along with the Huffington post article here, a local news outlet reports that the Ute Tribe (one of Utah's federally recognized tribal governments) has requested a Department of Justice investigation.  It's also reported that after an internal review within the police department, all officers must undergo education in cultural traditions.  

Hopefully their cultural education includes this piece of common sense: when people chant in Polynesian, even if they're loud and they slap their legs, that doesn't mean you should pepper spray them.


Here is a YouTube video allegedly taken at during the incident: VIDEO

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