Man Punches Connecticut School Board Member In Meeting About Changing Native American Mascot

Glastonbury High School changed its mascot name from the Tomahawks to the Guardians.
Omar Cruz, 20, prepares to portray Chief Illiniwek during halftime at a University of Illinois basketball game on February 28, 2016, at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill. Chief Illiniwek was the official mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but was retired in 2007 after controversy involving the NCAA and several Native American groups. An unofficial group still names a student to act as the Chief at select games. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A man punched a Connecticut school board member in the face during a meeting Tuesday evening to consider changing the name of the school’s Native American mascot.

Glastonbury High School changed its mascot name from the Tomahawks to the Guardians last year over concerns that the old mascot was racially insensitive. However, a petition later cropped up in the community to change the mascot’s name back.

A special school board meeting was held Tuesday in the Glastonbury High School auditorium to discuss possibly changing the mascot’s name back. The violent incident occurred during a 10-minute break in the meeting.

A man was captured on video having a heated conversation with board member Ray McFall, getting an inch or two from McFall’s face. McFall pushes the man away, and the man then punches McFall in the face.

After the incident, the board adjourned without voting on the mascot issue.

The Glastonbury police have investigated the incident, but so far, no arrests have been made, according to the Hartford Courant.

“The Board of Education welcomes public comment and appreciates that there will always be passionate testimony when controversial issues are considered,” Glastonbury schools superintendent Alan Bookman said afterward in a statement. “But it is critical that we listen to each other with respect and follow meeting rules so that everyone can be heard.”

The debate over racially insensitive school and sports team mascots has been ongoing for the last several years.

In April, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill banning Native American mascots at most public schools in the state. The law prohibits schools from using Native American names, symbols, and imagery as mascots, logos, or team names unless a tribal government has approved the proposal.

In March, the Cleveland Indians of the MLB announced that headdresses or facepaint “styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures or traditions,” are prohibited at games. Fans who violate the new policy face ejection from the stadium or the refusal of admission. The Indians still allow fans to wear attire featuring Chief Wahoo, the team’s original mascot, the grinning, red-faced cartoon caricature of a Native American chief that the team has used since 1947. The mascot, which has sparked complaints for decades, was removed from players’ uniforms in 2018. The team is also in the process of changing its name from “Indians” to a “new, non-Native American based name,” MLB said.

The Kansas City Chiefs implemented a similar policy last year, prohibiting fans from attending NFL games in Arrowhead Stadium if they were donning headdresses or wearing face paint based on Native American culture.

Also last year, Washington, D.C.’s, NFL team announced that it will no longer go by the name “Redskins,” but will instead be known as the “Washington Football Team” until a new name is chosen.

The Atlanta Braves, another team accused of using racist Native American imagery, have so far made no significant moves to change their team name. According to the organization, it has discussed the issue with Native American groups and “through our conversations, changing the name of the Braves is not under consideration or deemed necessary.”

However, the Braves are considering chopping “the chop,” the tomahawk motion fans make at games, saying that the controversial tradition is “one of the many issues that we are working through with the advisory group.”

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