A Massachusetts high school football team will forfeit the rest of its season after some of its members were accused of spray-painting racially charged graffiti on the home of the team’s only black player.
According to the Boston Globe, someone wrote the phrase, “Knights don’t need n——!” in blue paint on the foundation of the home of 13-year-old Isaac Phillips last Friday. Phillips, whose mother is white and father is black, believes the vandalism was done by members of his team at Lunenburg High School.
In response to the claims, Lunenburg school superintendent Loxi Jo Calmes announced Monday that the team’s final game — a Thanksgiving rivalry game against St. Bernard’s High School scheduled for next Wednesday — would be forfeited.
“The educators and coaches of Lunenburg value diversity, and we care deeply about all of our students,” Calmes said, according to the Globe. “We have no tolerance for racism in any form, and we do everything we can to eliminate it from our schools and our community.
“Numerous members of the faculty and staff were in attendance at the vigil (in support of Phillips’ family on Sunday) night, along with the entire football coaching staff and team. We have also sought out the assistance of the Anti-Defamation League to assist us in delivering additional educational programs for students to teach tolerance.”
As of Tuesday, no arrests had been made in the case, which is being investigated by the FBI, state police and the district attorney’s office. When questioned by the Globe, police chief James P. Marino declined to comment on whether any players had been questioned, or whether the suspects in the case are members of the Lunenburg team.
However, school officials did confirm to the paper that a racial incident did occur at a recent game between Lunenburg and South, a school from Worcester.
“Worcester athletic officials confirmed incident reports were filed after a Nov. 1 varsity game in Worcester between South High Community School and Lunenburg High School, and on Nov. 4 after a junior varsity game between the same schools, when several Lunenburg players allegedly used racial language toward Worcester players,” the Globe reported. “Near the end of both games, fights broke out because of the derogatory comments, according to school officials.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick addressed the issue in a press conference Monday afternoon.
“It’s disgusting,” said Patrick, who is black. “I don’t believe it is who the people of Lunenburg are. I don’t think it is who the people of the Commonwealth are.
“I have spoken with the superintendent. I have reached out to the family. I haven’t connected with the family, but I hope all of the people of the immediate community and around the Commonwealth will rally around this family and send them their support and remind them what I know to be true, that we are better than this.”