Backlash intensifies against ref who forced high school wrestler to cut dreadlocks

/ CBS/AP

Wrestling video controversy

A New Jersey school district says its wrestling team will no longer compete in events officiated by a referee who told a wrestler to lose his dreadlocks or forfeit his bout. The announcement came during an emergency meeting held Wednesday with the Buena Regional school board and members of the community.

The groups that assign referees have already said they wouldn't assign the ref until further notice.

Johnson won't take part in a wrestling meet scheduled for Thursday, says CBS Philly.

Buena Regional High School wrestler Andrew Johnson had his dreadlocks cut minutes before the match on Dec. 19.

Johnson, who is black, had a cover over his hair, but referee Alan Maloney, who is white, said that wouldn't do.

Maloney didn't respond to requests from The Associated Press for comment.

CBS Philly reports that emotions ran high as community members strongly backed Johnson during the meeting.

People from all across South Jersey showed up the day after Christmas for an emergency school board meeting. Those here are in support of the Buena Regional High School wrestler, Andrew Johnson. Many say the 16-year-old didn’t really have a choice in cutting his locks. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/W1MMv6B5cw

— Kimberly Davis CBS3 (@KimberlyDavisTV) December 26, 2018

The family’s attorney says the blame is on the referee that night. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/muTiBcACVx

— Kimberly Davis CBS3 (@KimberlyDavisTV) December 26, 2018

"I couldn't believe that this pig would humiliate that kid on the mat," Steve Martinelli said.

"This young man will never ever forget the physical and mental toll he took that night," Action Together New Jersey Civil Rights Director Rachel Green said. "As a mother raising children in this area, it broke my heart. It didn't matter if he was black, white, green or purple."

Many came from all across southern New Jersey for the emergency meeting.

Green and others are hoping procedures are put in place to prevent this type of incident from recurring.

"You had to have an ugly situation like this happen for them to address this," Green said. "It speaks to something tells me this isn't the first time something ugly like this has happened. I think people just thought this was OK."

First published on December 27, 2018

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Backlash intensifies against high school wrestler dreadlocks ref

Community voices strong support at emergency meeting for wrestler involved and school district's team won't take part in events that ref officiates

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