TRENTON, N.J. -An attorney for eight young U.S. wrestlers kicked out of a tournament after a photo surfaced of team members apparently simulating a lynching says the boys only intended to show school spirit.
Scott Wilhelm said in a prepared statement that the New Jersey students didn’t think what they were doing could be seen as insensitive and they were sorry for offending anyone.
The picture posted online showed boys in wrestling clothes surrounding a black wrestling dummy wearing a school T-shirt and hanging from a noose.
The statement noted that the dummy is used in daily practices and, as far as the wrestlers know, is only manufactured in dark leather.
“In outfitting the wrestling dummy, we did not give any thought to the physical appearance of the dummy as anything other than an unidentified generic wrestler,” Wilhelm said.
The boys sat at a table while the statement was read but didn’t comment.
Phillipsburg school officials made a statement Thursday saying they take the case seriously and “took the necessary actions to hold accountable those involved” but would not disclose the punishments because they are “student issues.”