Protest at school board was over demands to restore school team names: “We are offended by the Board of Education’s removal of the TOMAHAWKS mascot name AND the process by which it was removed and replaced.”
In a meeting of the Glastonbury, CT, School Board on December 14, video shows what appears to be a board member leaving the stage to physically confront a member of the public. The confrontation occurred during a recess of the meeting, after the member of the public made a comment about the board’s previous decision to change the high school mascot over concerns about cultural insensitivity.
The meeting was a petitioned meeting of the board called by the citizens of Glastonbury.
According to local media:
Of the nearly 40 residents that spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, only one got into a contentious back and forth with the board members.
A board member told resident Mark Finocchiaro “your time is up” to which he responded, “This is the history of our town,” referring to the Tomahawks name.
The Board member shot back, “You’re not paying attention.”
“You’re not paying attention, but they are,” said an angry Finocchiaro, pointing to the audience, before dropping an expletive.
That ended the public comments.
During a recess, when the Board was supposed to be voting on the request to restore the Tomahawks name, those in attendance said Board member Ray McFall came off the stage to confront Finocchiaro.
The entire incident was recorded on a cell phone, showing the two men, face-to-face, with Finocchiaro yelling directly into the board member’s face.
The cell phone video appears to show McFall pushing Finocchiaro, and then Finocchiaro punching McFall in the face. This followed a verbal altercation in which tempers flared:
Miranda Beach, a resident can be heard saying to McFall, “That’s unprofessional, why are you swearing at a citizen?”
Then, Finocchiaro said to McFall, “You’re in my face?”
“Yeah, I’m in your face,” McFall responded.
When Finocchiaro gets even closer, McFall pushes Finocchiaro away into the auditorium seats. Then Finocchiaro punches McFall in the face, knocking him off his feet.
After the punch was thrown, the crowd separated the two, and McFall was brought back onto the auditorium stage.
The meeting resumed, only for the chair to immediately call it adjourned due to the altercation. Police arrived shortly thereafter. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Another witness, Town Councilman John Cavanna, said members of the community didn’t appreciate the manner in which the board adopted the name change in August 2020. All meetings at the time were virtual, shutting the public out of the process. At the time, the board agreed that the mascot was offensive, but residents circulated a petition calling the board into a petitioned meeting to reconsider the vote.
TO: The Glastonbury Town Clerk
We, the undersigned qualified electors of the Town of Glastonbury, hereby present this petition requesting that the Board of Education host an IN PERSON hearing to allow every elector an opportunity to provide their input in person on the following:
We were not afforded the opportunity to provide meaningful imput in person during the period of the Covid pandemic and related shutdowns on the matter of the Glastonbury High School (GHS) TOMAHAWKS mascot name which was desired to be cancelled and changed to another name by a select group of individuals from within and outside the Glastonbury community. Glastonbury residents – students, student-athletes, alumni, business owners, taxpayers – who genuinely care either way about our GHS mascot name are in favor of retaining the TOMAHAWKS mascot name of the Guardians by a wide margin.
We are offended by the Board of Education’s removal of the TOMAHAWKS mascot name AND the process by which it was removed and replaced.
We see the TOMAHAWK as a wonderful symbol to respectfully educate students and residents and respectfully celebrate Native American heritage.
We request that the Board of Education take a step back and listen to the vast majority within the Glastonbury community and reconsider and then reverse its decision which was executed during the Covid pandemic.
By State of Connecticut bylaws, the Board of Education must host a hearing within three (3) weeks of receiving this duly signed petition ….
After the altercation, the meeting ended with no vote on the mascot and no subsequent meeting scheduled.
The altercation can be seen here:DONATE
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