Jennifer Tabakin, Town Manager
334 Main St.
Great Barrington, MA 01230
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016
Contact: Chief William Walsh Jr.
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Great Barrington Police Release Findings into Alleged Racial Incident at High School
GREAT BARRINGTON — Police Chief William Walsh reports that the Great Barrington Police Department has concluded its investigation into an alleged racist incident at Monument Mountain Regional High School.
On Monday, Sept. 26, a verbal altercation occurred, allegedly involving racist comments between two high school students. The incident stemmed from a varsity football player’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem, in line with similar protests that have recently taken hold across the country.
The altercation did not rise to a physical level, though the alleged words used were very concerning and prompted the police department to open an investigation.
The Great Barrington Police Department proceeded to consult with state and federal agencies to determine whether or not the remarks of one of the students could be classified as hate speech. After reviewing the matter, Investigating Officers Jonathan Finnerty and James Bragdon concluded that the speech used did not constitute a prosecutable offense, and the case has been closed.
“Though the law did not determine this incident to be criminal in nature, the remarks and language used during this incident are reprehensible. They are not condoned by the police department or the community of Great Barrington,” Chief Walsh said. “We encourage everyone in the community to have frank and honest discussions and to learn from this incident. We must be more mindful of the language used when we speak to one another.”