Wrestling Coach In Viral Video Was Accused Of Covering Up Noose 'Prank' On Black Athlete
A Santa Monica High School teacher who wrestled and pinned down a student in class on Friday was accused in 2011 of covering up a noose "prank" involving his wrestling team.
There has been an overwhelming response from the community in support of 60-year-old teacher Mark Black after he was put on administrative leave for a scuffle with 18-year-old African American student, Blair Moore. In a cell phone video that captured the incident in the classroom, Black, who reportedly accused the student of weed possession in school, is seen grappling with Moore. There were no punches thrown. Moore has since been arrested for battery, weapon possession (a box cutter) and marijuana possession along with another 16-year-old student.
Darrell Goode, president of the Santa Monica-Venice branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, told the L.A. Times that Black's recent incident with the students made him think of another situation with the teacher back in July 2011.
A civil rights group had previously filed a civil complaint with the Department of Justice against Black and two Santa Monica High School students on the wrestling team for an incident stemming from an alleged racial attack on an African American student, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
The complaint claimed that on May 4, 2011, the male African American student, who was also on the school's wrestling team that Black coached, ran into trouble with the other two male Caucasian students when he saw a wrestling dummy with a noose tied around its neck in the practice room. He said he went to the locker room to change and the two other students chained him to a locker and used racial slurs geared towards him, according to Santa Monica Daily Press and Malibu Surfside News.
Santa Monica High School officials claimed the incident was a "prank" from the students, according to the Malibu Surfside News.
The lawsuit also said that Black walked in on the incident, but did not report the crime to the police. “Instead, he helped plan and participated in the cover up of the racist hate crime against one of his students by encouraging those who had taken pictures of the noose to delete them,” Najee Ali, the director of Project Islamic HOPE who filed the civil lawsuit, wrote in the press release (via Santa Monica Daily Press).
Although the incident was reported to the school administration that day, Victoria Gray, mother of the African American student said she was not told about the attack until weeks later by a stranger, reported Malibu Surfside News. There was an investigation that ensued at the school, but the parties involved in the complaint reached a settlement, according to the Times.
“I don’t blame Coach Black,” wrote Victoria Gray, the mother of the alleged victim, in an e-mail to the Santa Monica Daily Press. “I blame the Santa Monica Unified School District for not instructing their staff on what to do when this sort of incident happens. Neither Coach Black nor his immediate supervisor knew what to do and the administration did not take charge."
Goode told the Times that school officials have since given proper training to staff members after the incident. Although he said he's "upset" that the coaching staff didn't report the incident, he considers this recent classroom fighting situation and the past racial incident to be separate.
“We want an investigation so we’re not unfair to anybody,” Goode said. “If the investigation shows that the coach initiated by grabbing the kid, that could be a problem."