The referee who forced a black varsity wrestler to cut off his dreadlocks will no longer officiate in the school district, reports CNN.
Residents discussed the “race-related transgression” at an emergency meeting held by the Buena Regional Board of Education on Wednesday. The incident, in which wrestling referee Alan Maloney forced 16-year-old Buena Regional High School student Andrew Johnson to choose between cutting off his hair or forfeiting the match, made national headlines after a video went viral of a trainer cutting off Johnson’s dreadlocks in the middle of the gym.
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
David Cappuccio, the school district superintendent, said that he informed the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) that “the school district and its athletic teams will not compete in any contest officiated by this referee from this point forward…He’s done working with our district.”
He added that because Maloney is not an employee of the district the board “has no control as to the extent to which he will be able to continue to work as a wrestling official.”
According to NBC10, Johnson’s lawyer Dominic A. Speziali said during the meeting that Maloney had told the teenager his hair “wasn’t in its natural state,” calling them “braids” instead.
“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,” said Speziali.
“Andrew was visibly shaken after he and his coaches made every effort to satisfy the referee short of having his hair cut,” added Speziali. “But, as captured on video, the unyielding referee gave Andrew 90 seconds to either forfeit his match or cut his hair. Under duress but without any influence from the coaching staff or the athletic trainer, Andrew decided to have his hair cut rather than forfeit the match.”
Johnson went on to win the match, but was understandably upset over the incident.
According to BuzzFeed News, the NJSIAA also said that the referee is also under investigation for his alleged use of the n-word in 2016, and that Maloney will not work until the matter is “thoroughly reviewed.”
This is disgusting, and I'm angry on this young man's behalf. You can SEE how humiliated he is. If anything, the team should've rallied around him and agreed not to participate so HE COULD KEEP HIS LOCS. Miss me with that "team player" crap. There's no justifying this. https://t.co/Lrv1Koq3H7
— Angie Thomas (@angiecthomas) 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
This isn’t the epitome of being a team player. This is the epitome of violent coercive racism pushing a kid into a corner needlessly and every adult who caused and allowed this should never work near kids again. https://t.co/WivYeIsEd5
— Mx. Amadi (@amaditalks) December 21, 2018
Hell of a performance by a teenage kid just publicly stripped of his identity for no reason at all. I don't know how anyone could even try to justify the behavior or self importance of this referee. Much respect to Andrew Johnson, but extremely sorry he had to endure that. https://t.co/7rONYZmwBO
— 856 Photography (@856Photography) December 21, 2018
This is completely wrong!
I wrestled for year's throughout high school and college with dreadlocks. I have never once ran into a situation like this before. https://t.co/Wcf9EMJRcP
— Cedric Alexander (@CedricAlexander) December 21, 2018
Im more pissed at this kid's coach than that clown ass ref. This kid needed an adult to take a stand for him right here. And his coach hung him out to dry. https://t.co/96p2034hNx
— Beyonce has an uncle named Larry Beyince. Bruh…. (@DragonflyJonez) December 21, 2018
This is so aggressively racist. https://t.co/ui6KKmnszS
— Aura Bogado (@aurabogado) December 21, 2018