Authorities Look Into Wrestlers’ Lynching Photo
New Jersey school sports officials have asked the state Division on Civil Rights to look into a photo that shows members of a high school wrestling team apparently depicting a lynching.
The photo, which surfaced online in recent days, shows seven white teens wearing Phillipsburg High wrestling attire posed with a black tackling dummy in a Paulsboro wrestling shirt and hanging from a noose. Two of the boys have the hoods on their sweatshirts fixed into points. One of the boys is holding a paddle.
Paulsboro and Phillipsburg high schools are longtime wrestling powerhouses and rivals. Phillipsburg, in northwest New Jersey, is a community of 15,000 where about 85 percent of the population is white. Paulsboro, south of Philadelphia, has about 6,000 residents — more than one-third of them black.
From photos online of wrestlers, it appears all or nearly all Phillipsburg's wrestlers are white, while some members of the Paulsboro team are black.
Phillipsburg won the teams' meet on Feb. 1 and last week won the state championship for its class. Paulsboro finished second in the state in its group.
New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association assistant director Larry White says his office forwarded the picture to the state Division on Civil Rights on Tuesday. A spokesman for the division did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
White says the NJSIAA is also awaiting a response from Phillipsburg High on how the situation will be handled.
In a statement released Tuesday, Phillipsburg schools superintendent George Chandro called the photo "a student matter dealing with minors" and said it was investigated and "actions were taken." He did not elaborate.
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