What to Know
- NJ activists demand permanent removal of the referee involved in forcing a high school wrestler to cut dreadlocks before match or forfeit
- Activists are scheduled gather at the headquarters of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Tuesday afternoon
- The group is also calling the state legislature to provide oversight of the NJSIAA, which they feel turned a "blind eye" in incident
Members of New Jersey's activist community are demanding the permanent removal of the referee involved in forcing a high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks before a match or forfeit.
Walter Hudson of the National Awareness Alliance and other activists are scheduled to gather at the headquarters of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) in Robbinsville Tuesday afternoon.
The group is gathering to demand the permanent termination of referee Alan Maloney as well as to call the state legislature to provide oversight of the NJSIAA, an entity they feel has turned a "blind eye" to the incident.
In late December 2018, Johnson, a black high school wrestler in Atlantic County, was forced by Maloney to either cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a wrestling match. With mere seconds to think about the decision, Johnson chose the haircut. The incident was caught on video and has gone viral sparking community outrage.
Rev. Edward Townsend, the associate pastor of the Greater Mount Teman A.M.E. Church in Elizabeth, feels Maloney should've resigned or been permanently banned from officiating after the controversial incident, according to a statement regarding the scheduled conference.
Since then, Johnson, 16, has been asked to cover his hair before another match this month as a result of an "unrelenting fixation" on the boy's hair by wrestling officials, his attorney Dominic Speziali said.
NJSIAA did not immediately respond to News 4 request for comment.
However, in a statement released Jan. 9, NJSIAA maintained it “shares the public’s desire for a speedy resolution to this important matter, [but] also is strongly committed to taking as much time as necessary to ensure that all aspects of the situation have been assessed.”
“As we previously noted, the referee in question [Alan Maloney] will not be assigned to matches until this matter has been thoroughly reviewed,” NJSIAA said. “This will help to avoid disruption of events for student athletes.”