Racist language launched against Winooski High football players, superintendent says

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A black and white soccer ball lies in the grass.
Photo by AnnRos via Pixabay

Enosburg Falls High School football players and fans used racist language at Winooski High School players when the two teams faced off earlier this month, according to the Winooski School District Superintendent.

Superintendent Sean McMannon said in a statement that Winooski High players of color “were called the N word, the monkey and the terrorist” during the September 18 game in Winooski. He said it was not the first time football players and fans of Enosburg Falls High have racially abused his district’s team. The statement was released Friday by the school district on Twitter.

“This continuing racial violence against Winooski’s student-athletes is making me sick, boiling my blood and must stop,” McMannon said.

The Vermont Principals’ Association, the governing body for school sports in Vermont, is aware of the incident, according to executive director Jay Nichols.

The match was first brought to the attention of association officials the day after the match, when the head referee informed them that a Winooski player had been taken out of the match after receiving a red card for “Violent conduct” and that the team’s players had been fouling excessively, Nichols said.

Nichols said the association is notified whenever a player is ejected, regardless of the severity of the incident.

Enosburg officials then sent the association video of a Winooski player head-butting an Enosburg player, Nichols said. The referee had not witnessed the header, said Nichols, which caused a concussion to the Enosburg player.

The association told Winooski officials that the player who headed the Enosburg player should appear before a committee to determine whether he should be suspended and for how long.

This hearing is set for Tuesday.

But upon reviewing the situation with Winooski officials, the association learned that Winooski’s players said they suffered racial violence during the game, Nichols said.

“It’s just as bad as the whim situation,” he said. “It’s violence in itself. “

The Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, which includes Enosburg Falls High, is currently investigating two allegations, Superintendent Lynn Cota wrote in an email.

One is that the Enosburg students “used racial slurs directed at the students of color in Winooski,” she said. The other is that the students of Winooski “were violent towards” the students of Enosburg during the game.

“If either one turns out to be true, we will take all possible disciplinary action to hold the parties accountable,” Cota said. “Racial comments and physical violence have no place in the sports arena, or anywhere else in our schools.”

In his statement, McMannon said Winooski’s players also described being kicked and nudged the ball during the game, out of sight of the referees.

He said the racist abuse by Enosburg players and spectators, as well as the physical conduct of both teams, was reported to the referee but ignored, which “resulted in even more aggressive and unsportsmanlike play by the share of the two teams “.

Winooski’s superintendent called on the school principals association to develop mandatory procedures for reporting racist abuse and violence, and to work with school districts “to ensure thorough and fair investigations into any reports of racial abuse.” .

In a statement on Monday, Winooski Mayor Kristine Lott also said the city “will continue to call for accountability and change, as well as fight for equality and racial justice” in response to the incident, which she described as “disheartening”.

Nichols said the association is already planning to require implicit bias training for high school coaches starting next winter season and high school officials starting next fall season.

“We are really trying to do what we can to help,” he said.

Last summer, Hussein Amuri, then a student at Winooski High School, told the district school board that he was called racist slurs during high school football games. The district needed to do more to fight abuse, he said at the time.

Winooski owns the state’s only BIPOC majority school district, VTDigger reported.

Winooski Mutual Aid volunteer group is hosting a ‘fill the bleachers’ event for the high school student’s home soccer game on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

“Come stay with them,” the group wrote in an Instagram post, “and show that Winooski doesn’t tolerate racism. “

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