Updated at 5:06 PM CST on Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015
City leaders, parents and Jackie Robinson West players called on Little League officials to reverse their decision to strip the Chicago champions of their U.S. title over residency violations, saying that the team doesn’t deserve to be punished.
"We think that this punishment is too harsh,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. “If this were a case of someone who was over age, 16 years old, as have happened in some cases, it’s forfeiture."
The call came during a press conference with the Rainbow Push coalition, where Jackson and Father Michael Pfleger spoke alongside fellow JRW supporters to commemorate the team despite the allegations.
JRW was stripped of its Little League World Series national championship title Wednesday after officials determined the South Side team added top suburban players in violation of residency rules.
The revocation of Jackie Robinson West's title means the national title would be handed to the Mountain Ridge Little League team of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jackson compared the decision to the “deflategate” scandal, saying that adults involved in the scandal were punished, but the team was not.
He noted that parents "feel a sense of pain over the attacks on the integrity of their children," and said some of the players were harrassed in school following the news.
Pfleger called the investigation a “witch hunt,” alleging the investigation was racially motivated.
“I can't help but wonder and question if the same thing would have been done with another team, another place, another race,” he said. "