A football match between Detroit Denby High School and Almont High degenerated into a fracas.
The confrontation ensued after the black Denby players were subjected to racist abuse and also spat on by white parents and fans of Almont High for kneeling during the national anthem.
Among the racial slurs hurled at them during the match on November 23 was the N-word.
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According to the Detroit Free Press, white parents and supporters of Almont High, which was the home team, took issue with the predominantly black Denby High football team for kneeling. The tense hostility between both teams and spectators ensued till the fourth quarter when the game was prematurely ended to prevent any further altercations.
The town of Almont is predominantly white with its black residents making up less than 1% of its population.
“Our cameraman is white and was filming near some Almont fans,” Denby coach Deon Godfrey recounted. “During the national anthem, he overheard them saying: ‘Look at these N-words taking a knee and they don’t even know why they’re doing it,’ and they kept going.”
The abuse, however, did not stop there. According to Godfrey, grown men and women also spat on the players and threw food, drinks and whatever they could lay their hands on at them when they were walking up the ramp.
“They called my student trainer a little monkey and they were saying: ‘Who let them off their leashes?,’” he told the Free Press. “’They need to be on a leash. They never should have been here in the first place.’”
A very hostile situation reminiscent of the racial injustices they were protesting by exercising their First Amendment, just like Kaepernick, another Denby player was reportedly punched in the face by an Almont parent after he reacted to being shoved by also shoving back.
Another melee also ensued between the Denby players and the Almont band after the band reportedly taunted them as they made their way to the exit tunnel after the match was abruptly ended due to dangerous play. Almont High won the game 38-6.
“We are saddened that the incredible accomplishments of the Almont Raiders football team, including making it to our first MHSAA State Final, have been overshadowed by the regrettable behavior of a handful of spectators at Saturday’s game,” Almont Community Schools Superintendent William Kalmar said in a statement, according to the Free Press.
“We are investigating fully allegations that members of the Almont Raiders marching band taunted players from Denby High School while both groups attempted to exit the stadium after the game was called by the officials. If we find evidence indicating that there was any taunting, those students involved will be disciplined appropriately. At this time, we have no evidence of such behavior by members of our marching band, dance team, cheerleaders or student body. There is no evidence of misconduct by our football team, football coaches or staff.”
The Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, also released a statement condemning the treatment of the Denby High players.
“The school district is deeply disturbed by the actions witnessed this weekend during the Almont-Denby game,” an amended statement by Vitti released November 25 read, the Free Press further reports.
“Based upon preliminary findings, it is our understanding that Almont adult spectators were cursing and spitting on our coaches and players after the game while leaving the field. The disrespect toward the city, school, and players continued on social media after the game where Almont fans used numerous racist stereotypes. We look forward to getting to the bottom of what occurred based on factual evidence to determine the district’s next steps on how to best support our school and its administration, coaches, and students.”
Though no arrests have been made, Almont Community Schools said they are cooperating with authorities to identify the perpetrators.
“If any spectators can be identified breaking the law, we will refer them to the appropriate authorities for prosecution,” Kalmar said.