A group of high school wrestlers are being investigated for taking a photo of what appears to be the white male students lynching a Black wrestling dummy in New Jersey. State officials are examining possible civil rights violations of the case, and the school superintendent says his office took steps to reprimand the boys as well.
The photo first found its way onto social media at the top of the month before local New Jersey news outlets began to cover the story as it went viral. The photo features what is reportedly members of the Phillipsburg High School wrestling team posing in curious ways, such as a performing a Nazi salute and wearing their hoodies in a pointed fashion to mimic the Ku Klux Klan.
To make matters worse, the practice dummy is wearing a shirt of rival high school Paulsboro, which may have featured Black athletes. Writers speculate the boys took the photo to celebrate its victory over the team early in February, and the Phillipsburg team just won the state championship over the weekend.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association made a public statement regarding the lynching photo, saying yesterday that it demands that Phillipsburg administrators hand them a report about the incident by noon today (February 20). School Superintendent George Chando said earlier in the week that the matter was handled internally, but that hasn't stopped further traction in the story.
A spokesman for the athletic association said that the state's Attorney General is also looking into the matter, this after they reported the issue to New Jersey's state Division on Civil Rights.
"We are taking this very seriously and so is the Attorney General," said the spokesman. The association learned of the lynching photo incident via the press as the school did not immediately issue a report for an unexplained reason.
Hit the jump to see the full size photo of the Phillipsburg High School wrestling team engaging in a mock lynching.