Black students from Detroit 'spit on,' taunted with racial slurs during football game, school officials say

Nov 25, 2019 at 4:31 pm
click to enlarge Black students from Detroit 'spit on,' taunted with racial slurs during football game, school officials say

Black Denby High School football players were spit on, pelted with garbage, and taunted with racial slurs before, during, and after a game Saturday, according to several school officials and other witnesses.

Officials halted the game against Almont High School with three minutes left because of excessive personal foul penalties.

The ugliness began when parents took issue with Denby players taking a knee during the national anthem before the game, Denby coach Deon Godfrey told The Detroit Free Press.

"Our cameraman is white and was filming near some Almont fans," Godfrey said. "During the national anthem, he overheard them saying: 'Look at these N-words taking a knee and they don't even know why they're doing it,' and they kept going.”

Godfrey said Denby’s coaches were called “wiggers” and that "grown men and women started spitting on our kids as they walked up the ramp. They were throwing food, cups, and whatever."

Godfrey added: “They called my student trainer a little monkey and they were saying: ‘Who let them off their leashes? They need to be on a leash. They never should have been here in the first place.’”

Detroit Public Schools Community District Nikolai Vitti said in a news release that the school district “is deeply disturbed by the actions witnessed this weekend during the Almont-Denby game.”

“Based upon preliminary findings, ‎it is our understanding that Almont adult spectators were cursing and spitting on our coaches and players after the game while leaving the field,” Vitti said. “The disrespect toward the city, school, and players continued on social media after the game where Almont fans used numerous racist stereotypes. We look forward to getting to the bottom of what occurred based on factual evidence to determine the district's next steps on how to best support our school and its administration, coaches, and students."

White people in attendance also reported racist comments by Almont parents and other adults in the stands.

Kathy Sagert, who is white, wrote on Facebook that her children “were appalled by the racist remarks and actions of the Almont fans from the very beginning of the game.”

“They witnessed hatred and racism at its best. They were so shook after the game. Any adult who spits on a kid should be arrested,” Sagert said.

A Denby counselor, Bob Burg, said some of the Black football players were locked in a “cage," spit on, and "pelted with garbage."

"One of our young men was punched in the face by an Almont parent!" Burg wrote on Facebook. "After we were able to get our kids in a safe area they locked us all in a caged area in the corner of the field, when we just wanted to get the kids safely on our bus.”

Berg said one of the Black students “was called a monkey by one of the officers.”

Other witnesses shared similar stories on social media. Almont Community Schools Superintendent William Kalmar said in a letter to parents and students that his district plans to “investigate fully.”

"We are investigating fully allegations that members of the Almont Raiders Marching Band taunted players from Denby High School while both groups attempted to exit the stadium after the game was called by officials," the letter said. "At this time, we have no evidence of such behavior by members of our marching band, dance team, cheerleaders or student body." He added, “We are cooperating with the authorities in attempting to identify those spectators who may have aggravated the confrontation by taunting Denby players. There is no circumstance in which it is appropriate for an adult spectator to interject themselves into a high school event.”

The Oakland County Sheriff's Office said it's also looking into the allegations.

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