Nearly two years after the Franklin boys’ basketball team was greeted with racial nicknames and derisive gestures during an away game at Hunterdon Central, a racial photo involving at least one Hunterdon Center student went viral on social media.
Now officials in the Franklin school district are seriously considering not sending Franklin’s team to compete in Hunterdon Central.
It is enough.
Those were basically the words of Franklin School Inspector John Ravally after reviewing photos poking fun at the fatal knee-to-neck surrender tactic that killed George Floyd last May, expressing his anger on Thursday at a district education board meeting, according to a story Friday at franklinreporter.com.
Ravally strongly advised Franklin not to send his athletic team to away games this year to a Flemington-based school as long as this kind of divisive racial behavior persists in the school community, the story says.
According to the report, Ravally said at the meeting, “I understand, and we understand, and we are concerned, and it is a disappointing and, quote, terrible, to be honest with you. I know they’re investigating at Hunterdon Central and we’ll be working on that in the coming days. “
High school season starts Monday for women’s tennis and then this week for other sports, although none of Franklin’s team are scheduled to travel to Flemington until the November 10 women’s soccer game. The soccer team played Hunterdon Central at home last year, but there are no matches this season due to the compressed sports calendar.
Contacted by Ravally NJ.com for further amplification but did not respond immediately. Jeffrey Moore, superintendent for Hunterdon Central Regional School District also did not return phone messages, but carried on the following statement:
“Hunterdon Central student trainers and athletes join our entire school to condemn all acts of racism, and believe that athletics is one of the best ways for communities to build bridges. We keep in touch with Franklin High School, with the hope that our students can take to the field together this season. “
WARNING: Offensive image below.
The viral photo that irked Ravally and others was that of two young people reenacting a picture of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, an act that ultimately led to Floyd’s death on May 25 and sparked worldwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. .
In the widely shared image, a young man wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat kneels on the throat of another person who poses a helpless Floyd while wearing an ape mask, as previously reported by NJ Advance Media. The black old man in Hunterdon Central was furious and questioned the district’s commitment and ability to deal with what one parent called “widespread” racism in Hunterdon Central. After the photo shoot, Hunterdon Central has set up a committee on “Racism, Equality and Diversity,” so far comprised of four white school board members, pledging to diversify the committee with non-board members.
The image shared is likely to match the Franklin basketball players and fans present at the 2018-19 season opener on the road in Hunterdon Central. It was later reported that some Hunterdon Center students had shouted racial taunts and mimicked monkey sounds at the Warriors. Hunterdon Central won easily that night, 75-47.
A former Hunterdon Central player who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation said acquaintances at the evening’s game supported the account, but also added that the Hunterdon Central student who had been touched as the instigator denied the allegations. The incident was reported to NJSIAA, which investigated and filed a report with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. According to NJSIAA spokesman Mike Cherenson, “The Franklin Administration (supervisor, principal and athletic director) met with the Hunterdon Center administration (January 10, 2019) and discussed ways that the two schools could partner to build better relations between districts. At 1 / 22/19 the school played the game without any issues being reported. “
According to the most recent demographic figures from the New Jersey Department of Education, Hunterdon Central High School is 79%, 10.3% Hispanic, and 2.9% Black. In comparison, Franklin High School is 40.1% Black.
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