NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In Ray Rice’s hometown of New Rochelle in Westchester County, controversy has erupted over whether the local high school did the right thing by taking down Rice’s Baltimore Ravens jersey.
On Wednesday, photos circulated on Twitter of the bare walls where Rice’s pro jersey and Walk of Fame plaque once hung at New Rochelle High School. The school left up the varsity jersey of Rice, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL on Monday after video of him punching his now-wife was leaked, sparking outcry from coast to coast.READ MORE: Federal Arrest Warrant Issued For Gabby Petito's Missing Fiancé Brian Laundrie
“There’s been, like, a lot of talk about it around school – that they’ve taken the jersey down,” said New Rochelle senior Abi Wacha.
As CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported, some students said the domestic violence scandal should be separated to Rice’s record of giving back to his hometown.
“What he did wasn’t right, but still, like, we should still support him because he did a lot for the high school,” said New Rochelle junior Bryan Chavez.
High school football players were wearing jerseys that Rice donated as they said the pro-player never forgot where he came from.
“What he did was wrong, but he’s pretty much the reason why our program is,” one player said.
“He’s the reason we have these jerseys on our backs right now,” said another, Demetrius Rodriguez.
But others said the school was sending a message that violence against women is never acceptable.READ MORE: 'I Can't Take This Anymore': Heavy Rain In Tri-State Area Renews Flooding Concerns For Many Still Dealing With Damage From Ida
“I think they took it down to show all the women in our school that it’s not OK for a man to beat you, and I really respect that they did that for us,” said student Mina Pierre-Pierre.
New Rochelle High School principal Reginald Richardson sent a letter to parents Thursday, saying, “This is undeniably painful for us all.”
He explained taking own the jersey and picture, which has continued to spark mixed reaction.
“They were just trying to show they’re not supporting that, so I think they did the right thing in that sense,” said student Sydney Littlejohn.
“One thing they teach us in New Rochelle is we’re all a family. And by taking down this jersey, I feel like they turned their back on family,” added football player Rodriguez.
In a separate letter, City School District of New Rochelle Supt. Brian Osborne said principals and key staffers are standing by children of all ages to address healthy relationships and domestic violence.
Richardson said Rice’s jersey number 5 will remain retired, because his athletic accomplishments have not changed.
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