Referee under fire after forcing black high school wrestler to cut off dreads (VIDEO)
Andrew Johnson had his hair brutally chopped off on the sidelines of his match for Buena Regional High School in New Jersey on Thursday after the referee, identified as Alan Maloney, gave him an ultimatum of cutting his locks or forfeiting the game.
Epitome of a team player ⬇️A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win. pic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelSNJ) December 20, 2018
National Federation of State High School Association rules dictate that all equipment worn on the mat, including hair coverings, fit “snug.” The ref claimed the cover Johnson was wearing over his dreadlock wasn’t sufficient – despite him wrestling without incident before the match, the Courier-Post reports.
The ref should be ashamed. In the black community, hair is often tied to identity. Expressing disapproval of the hair is in many ways expressing disapproval of the person.Don’t mold this into a feel good story of victory. It is a story of terrible discrimination. https://t.co/mbFEkaXQTP— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) December 21, 2018
No-loc bans are designed to oppress and shame Black people not just for expressing Blackness, but *for* their Blackness. They have no place in our society and certainly not in our schools. Until we can abolish these discriminatory practices and norms, we are all complicit. https://t.co/yaYWn2Ac0P— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) December 21, 2018
The high schooler reluctantly chose to cut his hair and went on to win the match, but still appeared visibly upset following his win.
No, not the epitome of a team player. It’s a kid dealing with a racist ref (dreds gave him no advantage) who was humilated and seemed devastated even after his win. His team shoot have sttod up for him. Utterly and totally f*cked up thing to do to a kid. https://t.co/dD8nn4YSiq— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) December 21, 2018
More context for you. Racial breakdown of Buena NJ (where Buena Regional HS is): 77 percent white. 7 percent black. This data will mean nothing to lots of you. But some will get it. https://t.co/dD8nn4YSiq— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) December 21, 2018
The footage has sparked an angry backlash on Twitter. Some of it directed towards SNJ Today sports journalist Mike Frankel who posted the footage with a caption prasing Johnson as the “epitome of a team player.”
All involved need be sued and arrested for assault.— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) December 21, 2018
Frankel later offered some context for the footage – that Johnson’s coaches argued the ref’s decision for several minutes until Maloney started the injury time clock. He also apologized for missing the “big picture” and the significance of the incident.
Adding another layer to the already disturbing footage, is Maloney’s alleged history of racism. In March 2016, he reportedly called a black coach the n-word. Maloney apologized for the incident and voluntarily attended sensitivity training.
This is disgusting. You all watched adults force a child to choose between part of his identity and the sport he loves & praised his acquiescence to that humiliating choice as “good sportsmanship.” Appalling doesn’t even begin to describe this whole situation or your sick praise.— Sabrina Joy Stevens (@realsabijoy) December 21, 2018
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said the referee would not oversee any more events until the issue had been investigated. “At this point, the NJSIAA is working to determine the exact nature of the incident and whether an infraction occurred,” said its executive director Larry White in a statement.
In their own statement, the superintendent of the school district, David C. Cappuccio Jr., said “no school/district staff member influenced the student into making this decision.”
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