A video of Andrew Johnson, who wrestles for Buena High in Atlantic County, New Jersey, being forced to cut his locs off has gone viral. Reportedly, he was told by referee Alan Maloney he had to cut off his hair or he could not play against a competing school.
See the video below:
The family is now speaking out.
According to ABC News 4, the family issued the following statement today, “Andrew has been deeply moved by the thunderous outpouring of unsolicited support — including from an Olympic wrestler, leading civil rights advocates and elected officials — after the shocking pre-match ultimatum. Wrestling has taught Andrew to be resilient in the face of adversity. As we move forward, we are comforted by both the strength of Andrew’s character and the support he’s received from the community. We will do all that we can to make sure that no student-athlete is forced to endure what Andrew experienced.”
In addition, Dominic Speziali, an attorney for the Johnson family revealed the referee, Alan Maloney, didn’t attend the weigh-in that day and when he “evaluated the teen before the match, he didn’t raise any issues with the length of his hair or the need to wear a head covering.”
As it was revealed after the video went viral, the referee has a history of racism. NJ.com alleges he “used a racial slur at a social gathering of officials in March 2016. He used the slur in an argument over homemade wine in a Jersey Shore condo after many officials gathered following a youth tournament in Wildwood. Another official, Preston Hamilton, who is Black, then slammed Maloney to the ground over the remark.”
For now, Maloney will not be assigned any new matches until this incident has been fully reviewed.
Now that Andrew Johnson is properly lawyered up, we hope they receive a serious settlement for what was clearly discrimination from a man with a history of racism.