Officials at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, N.J., said they will investigate an incident in which the Plainfield High School girls basketball team arrived at the school for a game Saturday and found a black dummy hanging from its neck in the room they were given.
When Plainfield arrived for the 11 a.m. game, it was met by what appeared to be a black dummy hanging from its neck by string with a basketball attached to it, according to a posting on Facebook.
The Cardinals opened the door to the classroom they were given as a team room before the game and were confronted by the dummy hanging from a wooden post by its neck. Its eyes seemed to be bulging from its head and its mouth was gaping. The string that the dummy was hanging from was also wrapped around its arm.
Plainfield first-year head coach Keshon Bennett confirmed that the incident occurred, and said his team played the game after seeing the dummy, losing 64-20. He said they quickly left the school after the game’s conclusion.
“We have been made aware that a picture taken by the coach or a member of the Plainfield Girl’s Basketball Team has been posted on social media of a puppet that was reportedly posed in a classroom located in the Clark Public Schools,” Edward Grande, superintendent of Clark Public Schools. “The Clark Board Education and the Clark Community does not condone any demonstrations of intolerance.”
He said the school board will investigate the matter to determine what occurred on Saturday and that action will be taken if necessary.
The statement continued, “It is premature to make any further statements until such time as the investigation is completed. Good sportsmanship and respect of fellow and opponent teammates has and will always continue to be an integral part of Crusader Athletics.”
Plainfield Athletics Director John Quinn referred all questions about the incident to the superintendent.
“We’re looking into the matter, but we really need more information,” said Gloria Montealegre, Plainfield’s community liaison. “The matter has been referred to the appropriate authorities.”
According to state census data from 2010, the last available numbers, Plainfield had an African-American population of 50 percent compared to Clark’s African-American population of 0.8 percent that same year.
A.L. Johnson first-year head coach Joe Marino said he was not aware of the incident when reached by telephone early Saturday afternoon.