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Iowa school punishes football players pictured in KKK robes with a burning cross

In this screen shot image taken from Twitter, five men wearing white hoods wave a Confederate flag next to a burning cross. The principal of Creston Community High School in southern Iowa says the school has disciplined several students who appeared in the photo, which circulated on social media, after officials became aware of it on Wednesday morning.
In this screen shot image taken from Twitter, five men wearing white hoods wave a Confederate flag next to a burning cross. The principal of Creston Community High School in southern Iowa says the school has disciplined several students who appeared in the photo, which circulated on social media, after officials became aware of it on Wednesday morning. AP

A high school in Creston, Iowa, has disciplined students who appeared in a photo wearing white hoods and waving a Confederate flag next to a burning cross.

The photo, which made the rounds on social media on Wednesday, shows five people standing in a field wearing white, pointed hoods, resembling Ku Klux Klan robes. Three of the people are wearing white T-shirts while another is shirtless. Two have their arms raised while a third appears to be holding a firearm.

Creston Community High School launched an investigation, found that Creston students were involved and dealt with the matter swiftly, athletic director Jeff Bevins told The Des Moines Register.

The students are Creston High football players, the Creston News Advertiser reports, citing unnamed sources.

Principal Bill Messerole would not say what that discipline entailed, citing the school’s student confidentiality policy. Messerole said school officials met with the students. He declined to say whether he had spoken to the students’ parents or guardians.

“I’m new to this,” Messerole said when pressed for more information. “I haven’t had any situations like this before.”

The photo, Messerole said, was not taken on school grounds.

“Our investigation is ongoing,” Messerole said. “I would say that picture does not reflect the values of Creston High School, our school district or our community whatsoever.”

Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer told the Omaha World-Herald that his department is aware of the photo but is not involved in an investigation. A person who answered the phone at the police department Wednesday afternoon referred questions from The Associated Press to Union County Sheriff Rick Piel.

Piel said there appears to be nothing for law enforcement to investigate.

“As far as I know, it’s all being handled by the school,” he said. “We’ve spoken to the county attorney, and we can’t come up with a charge.”

Creston is a city of more than 7,800 about 70 miles south of Des Moines.

Trey Cheers, a 2017 graduate of Creston Community High School, told the World-Herald the photo was sent to him by a friend, who received it from the student who took it. He posted it on Twitter, writing, “... Makes me embarrassed to be from this town.”

“I was disgusted,” Cheers said in a phone interview. Creston, he said, is a “loving” community.

“It’s just sad that one picture can ruin our reputation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Adam Darby: 816-234-4318, @adarby87

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