High school football players in Detroit were reportedly subjected to racial slurs, spitting and cursing from adult fans of the opposing team.
According to Denby High School’s football coach, Deon Godfrey, the racist remarks, which included the N-word, began as early as when Denby players took a knee during the national anthem before the game against Almont High School, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“Our cameraman is white and was filming near some Almont fans,” Godfrey told the Detroit Free Press. “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.”
Godfrey added how Denby’s white coaches were also called “wiggers,” and that “grown men and women started spitting on our kids as they walked up the ramp. They were throwing food, cups and whatever,” the Detroit Free Press reports.
While the incident reportedly began at the start of the game, it continued throughout the game and postgame after the referees called off the Division 5 state semifinal game early in the fourth quarter due to excessive personal fouls, the Free Press reports.
As the Denby players began exiting the field at the same end of the field as Almont’s band, tensions escalated after a Denby player reportedly shoved an Almont band member when the band was chanting, “Hard work!” The Almont band members said they had been chanting the tribute to the saying made famous by Floyd Mayweather all season long. But Godfrey said they were also chanting “know the rule book” and “play smarter,” the Free Press reports.
Those chants were reportedly taken as taunts by some of the Denby players, provoking one of them to shove Almont band member Trevor Forsythe, who tweeted about the incident, the Free Press reports. That tweet has since been deleted.
After the shove, Almont fans reportedly began hurling racial slurs at Denby players. Some of the Denby players reacted by throwing helmets or shoes or climbing a fence that separated fans from the playing field, the Free Press reports.
“They called my student trainer a little monkey and they were saying: ‘Who let them off their leashes?'” Godfrey said, the Free Press reports. “‘They need to be on a leash. They never should have been here in the first place.’”
A punch was thrown, Godfrey said, after an Almont parent “bumped my player and (the player) bumped him back.” The parent punched the player in the face, before “my players started running to his aid.”
According to the Oakland County’s Sheriff’s Department, no arrests were made, but officers are still investigating the incident, a spokesperson said Monday (Dec. 2), the Free Press reports.
However, one Denby player was briefly detained to ensure his safe removal from the situation, the Free Press reports.
“The school district is deeply disturbed by the actions witnessed this weekend during the Almont-Denby game,” Detroit Public School Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement Monday (Dec. 2), the Free Press 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.”
Almont Community Schools Superintendent William Kalmar said in a statement, the Free Press reports, “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.”