Race and wrestling in Santa Monica

By Alec Goodwin

Members of the Santa Monica High School wrestling team in California may find themselves facing hate crime charges after an event that led to a noose being hung around a dummy and a black student tied up with a belt.

Although the event occurred on May 4th, the victim’s mother was not informed until several weeks later and only through other parents. To add insult to injury, the school had apparently known about the incident for a long time but had simply refused to tell the mother.

Victoria Gray’s son entered the locker room on May 4th. There, he saw a training dummy with a noose hung around its neck. He ignored it and continued to change when two white students approached him. One of them restrained him while the other tied him to a locker by his own belt. Reportedly, the white students also made racial remarks. Gray’s son did not report the incident, but the school was aware that it had occurred.

The school claims that it appropriately punished those involved; including handing out suspensions, but it took them nearly five weeks to tell anyone that the incident even took place. Why was there so much hesitancy on their part, and why was the punishment for such an incident so light?

Police are currently investigating the incident, and depending on what was said and what they find, charges against the students could range from assault to hate crimes.

Alec Goodwin, a college junior studying criminology at the University of Maryland, is serving as a Friends of Justice intern during the summer of 2011.