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Lunenburg forfeits games following racist act

LUNENBURG — School Superintendent Loxi Jo Calmes announced Monday evening that all remaining games for the Lunenburg High School football team, including the popular Thanksgiving game Nov. 27 against St. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg, have been forfeited following a racist hate crime targeting a young player.

The Lunenburg team is in the spotlight after racist graffiti was discovered Friday morning spray-painted on the residence of 13-year-old Lunenburg player Isaac A. Phillips, who alleges wrongdoing by teammates.

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Calmes thanked the community for attending a vigil Sunday night and for supporting Isaac and his family, who were the targets of an “act of hate.” The district will continue to make its resources available to assist the Phillips family, Calmes said at a press conference at the public safety complex.

She also confirmed an investigation into allegations related to racial slurs by Lunenburg players directed toward Worcester South High Community School football players a few weeks ago.

“The educators and coaches of Lunenburg value diversity, and we care deeply about all of our students,” Calmes said. “We have no tolerance for racism in any form, and we do everything we can to eliminate it from our schools and our community.

“Numerous members of the faculty and staff were in attendance at the vigil [Sunday] night, along with the entire football coaching staff and team. We have also sought out the assistance of the Anti-
Defamation League to assist us in delivering additional educational programs for students to teach tolerance.”

Police Chief James P. Marino said the investigation continues with the assistance of the FBI, State Police, and the district attorney’s office. He said that authorities are making progress and would issue a statement if an arrest is made, but he would not comment on whether the act was committed by a football player or if any football players were or will be questioned.

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He said an added unplanned consequence of suspending the games might be to pressure who did it to come forward.

Earlier Monday, Worcester school officials confirmed that a racial incident occurred recently when the Lunenburg High football team played a Worcester team and the game ended abruptly.

Worcester athletic officials confirmed incident reports were filed after a Nov. 1 varsity game in Worcester between South High Community School and Lunenburg High School, and on Nov. 4 after a junior varsity game between the same schools, when several Lunenburg players allegedly used racial language toward Worcester players. Near the end of both games, fights broke out because of the derogatory comments, according to school officials.

Isaac’s father, Anthony J. Phillips, said he is irate and frustrated with Lunenburg officials for allegedly covering up racist comments made by several Lunenburg football players at games against Worcester and feels Lunenburg coaches should resign.

Anthony Phillips said Monday he believes the same football players were involved in defacing his home last week and hazing his son, an eighth-grader who plays freshman and junior varsity football for Lunenburg.

On the foundation of the Phillips family’s home on Chase Road, the phrase “Knights don’t need n------!” was spray-painted in blue letters one evening last week. Isaac’s father is black and his mother is white. Lunenburg teams are nicknamed the Blue Knights.

Jim Wilson of the Telegram & Gazette staff contributed to this report.

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