Press Statement — TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF ALMONT SCHOOL DISTRICT: BRINGING CHARGES AGAINST THREE BLACK PLAYERS IS NOT THE ANSWER. FIXING THE PROBLEM IS A BETTER SOLUTION!

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT – The recent response to the Denby and Almont High School District 5 finals by the Superintendent of the Almont School District is most disappointing. It appears the Superintendent is placing the entire responsibility on the backs of the Denby players. This shows a lack of understanding, sensitivity and creative balance to resolve not only this dispute but to use this incident as a teaching moment. The experience of black youth at this football game in which they were spat upon, called the n-word, pushed and excoriated by adults supporting the Almont team must weigh heavily on any decision made. This is particularly important as it relates to discipline or accountability for any individual involved. Where is the evidence of the Sheriff’s Department, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office, or the Almont School District that this incident was stimulated, motivated and perpetuated by only three black players from Denby High School?

Now is the time for grown folks to act like grown folks. There should be a coming together of both districts to address this unfortunate incident in a manner that precludes any further outrage. The Michigan High School Athletics Association must ensure greater diversity, training and accountability on the field, during the game, and at the conclusion. There has been no coming together of the individuals involved in this incident. It is natural, although it may not be desirable, for young people to respond in this way to defend themselves or to stand up for their rights as demonstrated and reflected at the recent game. We do not support violence or verbal abuse by any individual or groups. However, we call upon the Superintendent of Almont, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Prosecutor’s office, the Detroit Public School Community District and any others involved to sit down around a common table to resolve this issue. Charging students who clearly were standing up for themselves and protecting their rights should not be condemned but should be understood. This is clearly a case where some have reacted on all sides in the midst of such hostility which involves not only black players but white players and white fans.

Click here — Bringing Charges Against Three Black Players Is Not The Answer — to read the statement in its entirety.

Press Statement — Keep Your Spit and Garbage to Yourself

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT – The recent attacks on the Denby High School football players during and after the game with some of the Almont High School fans and parents has no place on or off the field. On November 23, 2019, during the Division 5 state semifinal football game, racial slurs, cursing, spitting, and even some punching and pushing occurred. These actions were launched against the black football players from Denby High, a Detroit Public School. Investigations are now being conducted by both school districts. This behavior was according to some, due to the black players taking a knee during the national anthem. This caused some white parents and fans among the Almont supporters to get upset and to start verbal abuse. Perhaps we all need to be reminded that taking a knee is not illegal, un-american, un-patriotic, and certainly not violent. It is quite frankly legitimate and allowable as expressive conduct, and lawful behavior that offers a political opinion. Many suggest it is the constitutional equivalent of free speech. As a matter of fact according to the Supreme Court of the United States in Street vs. New York 1969, “The constitutionality guaranteed freedom to be intellectually diverse or even contrary and the right to differ as to things that touched the heart of the existing order, encompass the freedom to express publicly ones opinion about our flag including those opinions which are defiant or contentious.”

Click here — Keep Your Spit and Your Garbage to Yourself — to read the statement in it’s entirety.