BUENA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A south Jersey board of education held a special emergency meeting Wednesday, a week after a referee ordered a high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match.
Video shows 16-year-old Andrew Johnson getting his hair chopped minutes before his match last week.
Referee Alan Maloney ruled the athlete’s hair violated regulations, but some people believe the request was racially motivated.
Attorney Dominic Speziali spoke on behalf of the Johnson family.
“The blame here is on the referee,” he said.
Many came from across south Jersey to voice their concerns.
“You had to have an ugly situation like this happen for them to address this,” Civil Rights Director for Action Together New Jersey Rachel Green said. “It speaks to… something tells me this isn’t the first time something ugly like this happened. I think people just thought this was okay.”
Green, and others, say they’e hoping there will soon be procedures in place so the same situation doesn’t happen to someone else.
The New Jersey Division of Civil Rights is also investigating the matter.
Andrew went on to win his match following the impromptu haircut. His family’s attorney says they’re supportive of the team’s coaching staff and the trainer who cut his hair.
Buena Regional has a wrestling meet scheduled for Thursday which Andrew will not be attending. The district adds they will not participate in any meets refereed by Maloney moving forward, CBS Philly reported.