Several Illinois college football players said they were just joking when they dressed in Ku Klux Klan hoods and robes to parody the popular 2003 film Bad Boys II, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the Chicago Tribune reports. The players, including some who are African American, also carried Confederate flags, the report says.
But instead of laughs, they provoked outrage at Wheaton College, a four-year Christian liberal arts institution in Wheaton, Ill. The students were forced to email an apology to the campus.
“I was shocked when I first heard that symbols with a history of racist violence had been used on our campus,” Wheaton President Philip Ryken said in a statement. “Sadly, this is a campus where we have sins to confess and people to forgive every day.”
The skit took place Feb. 28 in a campus gym during the football team’s annual off-season team-building activity, which involved groups of teammates performing skits, the report says. Some coaches, who also apologized, attended the event.
Josh Aldrin, a black football player, took responsibility for the parody, telling faculty and fellow students that “we made a mistake,” the Tribune writes. Aldrin, who is one of four team captains, asked for forgiveness and urged those with questions to reach out to him or teammate Wes Cannonier, who also is black, writes the news outlet.
“As a black male, a team captain, and the leader of the group that performed the skit, I should have understood that [the] KKK and Confederate symbols are not funny in any context,” Aldrin wrote, according to the Tribune. “We hope the campus community will forgive us for our actions.”
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.