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Latest Hunterdon Central Racial Incident Spurs District To Mull Boycotting School Games

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said on September 24 that the district may not send student-athletes to Hunterdon Central Regional High School for sports contests.

Franklin High School athletes may not travel to Hunterdon Central Regional High School for games this year, the schools Superintendent said on September 24.

Superintendent John Ravally said published reports of Hunterdon Central students mocking the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, and taking a picture of their action, is causing the district to mull not traveling to Flemington to athletic contests.

The incident also evoked memories of a racial incident at Hunterdon Central experienced in 2018 by the boys basketball team and its fans.

George Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in May. Floyd’s death sparked protests throughout the country – including in Franklin – by people calling for police reform and an end to police violence against people of color.

Published reports say that a picture of one Hunterdon Central student kneeling on the neck of another, who is wearing a monkey costume head, have gone viral on the Internet.

Hunterdon Central’s Superintendent, Jeff Moore, reportedly sent a letter to parents after the August incident, in which he said schools are duty bound “to fight racism wherever it appears. I, as your superintendent, am duty-bound, through my commitment to and love for our students and community, to declare it abhorrent and to say that it has no place here.”

Ravally said discussions about Franklin’s reaction to the incident are being held at various levels in the district, and that Athletic Director Ken Margolin has spoken with Franklin student-athletes, FHS principal Frank Chmiel and will be talking to officials at Hunterdon Central.

“The safety and well-being of our students is always first and foremost,” Ravally said in answering a question about the incident posed by Catina Blackmon Jackson, who had called in to the school board’s meeting.

“I understand, and we understand, and we are concerned, and it was a disheartening and quite appalling incident, to be honest with you,” Ravally said. “I know they’re investigating at Hunterdon Central, and we are going to be dealing with that over the next couple of days, well ahead of having to compete at Hunterdon Central, so we will be talking about whether or not we are intending on going there.”

High school sports seasons begin at the start of October.

“Mr. Margolin is talking with our students, getting an understanding of where they’re coming from and talking with Mr. Chmiel,” he said. “We will be circling back.”

“There is a possibility that we won’t attend,” Ravally said. “Maybe there’s a possibility that we invite them to come here. But these are all things that have to be talked about.”

Franklin athletes have had experience dealing with racist comments at Hunterdon Regional. In December, 2018, Hunterdon Central fans at a boys basketball game against the Warriors reportedly made “monkey noises” while Franklin players tried to make foul shots.

The incident was reported to the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association, which launched an investigation and made a report to the state Division on Civil Rights.

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