PHILLIPSBURGH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An attorney for eight members of the Phillipsburg High School wrestling team said the photo that surfaced of team members apparently simulating a lynching was meant “innocently,” and expressed disappointment at the wrestlers being banned from the state individual tournament and suspended three days from school.
The picture showed seven boys in Phillipsburg wrestling attire surrounding a black wrestling dummy wearing a rival Paulsboro High School T-shirt and hanging from a noose. The photo, which was taken after the team won the Group 4 state championship Sunday, also shows two of the boys with the hoods on their sweatshirts fixed into points.
“When we spontaneously set the scene and posed for the photograph, our sole purpose was to promote school spirit and portray our wrestling team as victor over two of our archrivals – Paulsboro High School and Kittatinny High School, and not for any other purpose,” attorney Scott Wilhelm said on behalf of the students — Andrew B. Horun, Tyler Agans, Jimmy Schuitema, Tim Hinkle, Broderick Bupivi, Tyler Petchonka, Daniel Wissing, and Garrett Wolfinger.
The group represented the seven wrestlers who appeared in the photo and one other who snapped the picture.