A football game between Roxbury Prep and host Georgetown ended in the fourth quarter following an altercation Friday night, the cause of which was repeated racial slurs by Georgetown players and fans, according to Roxbury Prep head coach Willie McGinnis.
On Monday, McGinnis recounted the events, expressing pride in the restraint of his players and coaching staff after being targeted with racial slurs throughout the contest.
The first-year head coach said his players started to report that they were being called racial slurs during the second quarter. At halftime, the coach spoke to the referees, and then addressed his team.
“My message to the team was that we need to be better men and not react to the situation,” said McGinnis, also the Dean of Students at the charter school in Hyde Park.
According to McGinnis, the situation escalated in the second half, with fans harassing his players and staff from directly behind the visiting bench. McGinnis said one of his assistants asked the fans to step back and was called a racial slur.
Georgetown was leading, 44-8, when a skirmish broke out among players on the field at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, McGinnis said players were coming to the sideline with tears in their eyes, alleging that the Georgetown players continued to use racist language, and the coach asked to call the game.
While waiting for Georgetown to leave the field before escorting his team to the visiting locker room, McGinnis said he could hear a chant from Georgetown players that included more racial slurs.
“We have experienced [racism at games] before, but not to this level or degree,” he said. “This was very hostile, very unsafe, and the environment was not suitable for competition.”
In a statement posted to the Georgetown Public Schools website, Superintendent Carol Jacobs said a physical altercation during Friday night’s football game involved “players from both teams and several coaches,” and Georgetown police helped disperse the crowds when the end of the game was canceled.
“The cause of this altercation is under investigation,” the statement said. “Allegations of the use of racially charged language are also being investigated. I want to clearly state that the Georgetown Public Schools will not tolerate racism in any form and is working with the Georgetown Police Department to investigate this allegation.”
The Georgetown’s superintendent office did not respond when asked for comment.
Barbara Martinez, the spokesperson for Roxbury Prep, provided a statement:
“Our community is appalled and hurt by what happened in Georgetown last Friday night. Harassment and intimidation in any form is unacceptable, and any racist treatment and lack of appropriate supportive response is disturbing. We call on the Georgetown district to fully collaborate with us to investigate this incident and to take strong actions to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Our priority will remain the safety and well-being of our community as we continue to advocate for racial justice, love and respect.”
Jamaal Hunt, an assistant coach at Roxbury Prep, expressed dismay over the incident on Facebook.
“I’m still numb, but this is America,” he wrote. “The fact that there was nothing I could do to protect my boys hurt the most. I broke down, I watched racism ruin whats something that was supposed to be good to them, Friday night lights but instead we were ridiculed, called N bombs by players, faculty, staff, spectators and were taunted all night.”
I’m still numb, but this is America. The fact that there was nothing I could do to protect my boys hurt the most. I...Posted by Jamaal B Hunt on Saturday, September 18, 2021
Hunt also wrote on his Facebook page that “racism was at an all time high” and that he was approached by police “for absolutely no reason.”
“I’m angry that to this day things like this still happen, feeling powerless in a lose lose situation,” he wrote. “I couldn’t protect them and it hurt. I could go anywhere and coach the game that I love, but at Roxbury Prep we will fight for what’s right. NO ONE should ever experience what we experienced last night. Georgetown High School has ignited a fire in me that will never go out.”
Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff contributed to this report.