The scene was chaotic and ugly. Emotions were high and police officers were trying to get control.
“Hey, hey! Back up folks!” somebody shouted at a group of Detroit Denby High School football players.
One of the Denby players had shoved a member of the Almont High SChool band, according to witnesses, after Almont’s victory in the state semifinals at Walled Lake Central on Nov. 23.
Almont says: That shove started this whole thing.
Denby says: That shove didn’t start it. It was the racial animus. Where is the video evidence the shove even happened?
Denby administrators and coaches say the Almont crowd hurled racist remarks, shouted profanities, threw things, punched a player and spit at the Denby players. Almont administrators and spectators say they have found no evidence of racist remarks, no evidence that a Denby player was punched and have seen no video evidence that objects were thrown.
“Back! Back!” somebody can be heard yelling on video.
Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies were trying to get the Denby players away from the gate.
Almont parents and spectators rushed to a platform overlooking the field and several were screaming frantically, which can be heard on video.
“Band kids stay together!” a woman screamed.
“Almont, back!” somebody yelled.
But the Almont football players were nowhere near the scene. They were on the other side of the field.
“It’s not Almont,” somebody shouted from the stands. “It’s all Denby.”
At that moment, the they-said, they-said began, after this state semifinal that was called off in the fourth quarter by the officials because the game was getting out of control.
Denby says: It wasn’t fair. The refs called significantly more penalties on us.
Almont says: The refs called this game because it was getting getting dangerous. Denby’s players were out of control.
At least two sheriff’s deputies directed the Denby players away from the stands and toward the field, and it looked as if everything was starting to settle down, although the chirping continued from the Almont stands.
Almont superintendent Dr. William Kalmar stood in the middle of the Denby players — he went there after he saw the commotion. Kalmar looked up into the Almont stands and says he heard one of the Almont spectators scream at the Denby coaches: “Get control of your (expletive) kids!”
A Denby player walked away from his team. He flipped a blue hood over his head and moved toward the stands. He hopped over a railing, rushed up a ramp toward the Almont fans, followed by many of his teammates. “I don’t know if there was a specific comment or if the fact that there were comments being said to them in general,” Kalmar said. “That spurred them to go past the police and confront those adults up there directly.”
As the Denby players rushed up the ramp, the chaos and frantic screams ignited again, which was captured in several videos. The Free Press reviewed more than 4 minutes of continuous video taken at field level. Voices can be heard, but the Free Press was unable to identify any racist remarks or see any objects thrown.
Almont says: If there were so many racial slurs, why weren’t any caught on video? Your false accusations have harmed our community.
Denby says: The video doesn’t prove anything. It’s just one view. You are trying to blame everything on a few players.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Jeff Seidel