New Jersey high school wrestler Andrew Thompson was forced to cut his dreadlocks moments before his match on Wednesday. Thompson was told by referee Alan Maloney that if he did not cut his hair, he would forfeit the match.
Thompson went on to win, but was visibly upset as his hair was being cut off and after the contest. Thompson quickly walked away when the referee tried to raise his hand after the victory.
New Jersey's Interscholastic Athletic Association said in a statement they are recommending Maloney not be assigned to any event until the matter has been reviewed more thoroughly. The Division on Civil Rights has also opened an investigation.
Wrestlers are allowed to wear legal hair covers during matches, according to rules set by the National Federation of State High School Associations. If a wrestler’s hair extends below the earlobe on the sides or touches the top of a normal shirt, it’s required to be secured in a hair cover. Thompson had a cover for his hair, but was told that it wouldn't be enough.
American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and many online have called out Maloney for his "racist" action against Thompson. The school and coaches were also called out for allowing the incident to happen.
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
Every adult in that space with any authority should be disciplined. This is disgusting.— Sadiqa (@SadiqaReynolds) December 22, 2018
Footage makes my heart sink. He looks so defeated after his win. He will also wrongly feel guilt for letting them do that to him. I feel for his parents. I hope he continues to shine & grows his hair back. More than one head needs to roll for this blatant racism. #AndrewJohnson— NoseyMass (@NoseyMass) December 22, 2018
My son wrestled in high school and if anything remotely happened like this to him or his anyone else, I would have snatched up somebody! This is ridiculous and disgusting!— John De Leon (@kingleon7295) December 22, 2018
Kudos to the kid for not letting some bigot keep him down, but that doesn't make me less angry this happened. His hair was not an issue by any stretch of the imagination. The real issue is this #RacistRef attempting to humilate or power play a teenage boy. He needs to be fired.— Mariah Ramsey (@TheMariahRamsey) December 22, 2018
High School Sports NJ reports that Maloney used a racial slur against a black referee in 2016. Maloney allegedly poked referee Preston Hamilton, who is black, in the chest and allegedly used a racial slur during an argument over homemade wine.
Buena Regional High School superintendent David Cappuccio said in a letter that the school supports and stands by all student athletes. “The student-athlete made the decision to have his hair cut, at that moment, in order to avoid a forfeiture of the match,” wrote Cappuccio. “The district will take appropriate action as more details become available.”
You can view the incident in the video player above.