The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a racially-charged fight involving high school football players and parents at the playoff football game between Almont and Detroit Denby last weekend.
In a statement, Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said that it is the district’s understanding that “Almont adult spectators were cursing and spitting on our coaches and players after the game while leaving the field.”
According to Denby coach Deon Godfrey, the racist remarks included the N-word and began as early as when Denby players took a knee during the national anthem before the game, reports 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 witnessed parents calling Denby’s white coaches also were being called “wiggers,” and “grown men and women started spitting on our kids as they walked up the ramp. They were throwing food, cups and whatever.”
“They called my student trainer a little monkey and they were saying: ‘Who let them off their leashes?’ ” Godfrey said. ” ‘They need to be on a leash. They never should have been here in the first place.’ ”
Godfrey said a punch was thrown after an Almont parent “bumped my player and (the player) bumped him back.”
The parent punched the player in the face, before “my players started running to his aid.” Tensions quickly escalated between the teams and fans, and deputies had to intervene.
“One of our young men was punched in the face by an Almont parent!” Denby counselor Bob 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.”
No arrests were made, according to the Oakland County’s Sheriff’s Department.
“The school district is deeply disturbed by the actions witnessed this weekend during the Almont-Denby game,” Vitti said in an amended statement Monday. “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. 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.”
In a letter to parents and students, Almont Community Schools Superintendent William Kalmar said that his district plans to investigate the incident “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 read. “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.”