- Wrestling referee Alan Maloney has been banned from officiating in New Jersey’s Buena Regional School District, its superintendent announced on Wednesday.
- It comes after Maloney forced wrestler Andrew Johnson to choose between forfeiting the match or cutting off his dreadlocks.
- Johnson’s family called the December 19 incident a “race-related transgression.”
- Maloney had said Johnson’s dreadlocks were against the rules.
The New Jersey high school wrestling referee who forced a black teen to decide between forfeiting a match or cutting off his dreadlocks has been banned from officiating in the district following a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday.
Buena Regional School District Superintendent David Cappuccio and the Board of Education met on Wednesday night to discuss the December 19 incident involving referee Alan Maloney and Buena Regional High School varsity wrestler Andrew Johnson.
Cappuccino announced at the meeting that Maloney is “done working with our district,” according to WPVI.
In video of the incident, Johnson looked visibly upset as an athletic trainer cuts off his dreadlocks. Johnson had to use injury time for the haircut and almost ran out of time wrestling his competitor during the match.
The framing of this story is problematic. This isn’t overcoming adversity, but a person of color having to succeed in the face of prejudice. https://t.co/nKDwnVfi5D
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) December 21, 2018
The video of Johnson’s hair being cut sparked outrage online, with many accusing the referee of racism.
Maloney, who previously was accused of calling another officiator the N-word in 2016 at a private function, said Johnson’s dreadlocks were against the rules.
Dominic A. Speziali, an attorney for the Johnson family, said in a statement Monday that Maloney told Johnson just before the start of his match that his hair “wasn’t in its natural state” and referred to the dreadlocks as “braids.”
According to New Jersey high school wrestling rules, legal hair covers should be presented at weigh-ins and when competitors are checked for grooming.
The National Federation of State High School Associations says wrestlers have to wear a legal hair cover if his or her hair extends past the earlobes, the Courier Post reported.
Johnson’s family blamed Maloney for the incident, calling it a “race-related transgression.”
They said Maloney missed the weigh-in, where wrestlers’ appearances are inspected so officials can inform competitors of any rule violations before matches begin.
“As this matter is further investigated, the family wants to be clear that they are supportive of Andrew’s coaches and the team’s athletic trainer,” Speziali said in the statement. “The blame here rests primarily with the referee and those that permitted him to continue in that role despite clear evidence of what should be a disqualifying race-related transgression.”
The family said Johnson, a junior at Bueno Regional High, was previously able to wrestle with the dreadlocks without issue.
Maloney is now facing a civil rights investigation, Leland Moore, a spokesperson in the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, told Buzzfeed News.
The American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey said in a statement that the incident was “not about hair,” but “about race.”
“How many different ways will people try to exclude black people from public life without having to declare their bigotry?” the ACLU chapter tweeted on Friday.
- Read more:
- French super club Paris Saint-Germain admits young footballers were racially profiled to limit the number of black players
- A high school assistant principal is accused of harassing a transgender student over his choice of bathrooms
- Students say they warned school administrators about the California teacher who was arrested for forcibly cutting a student’s hair, and their calls went ignored
- A high school has banned students from wearing expensive designer coats in an effort to stop ‘poverty shaming’
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