GREAT BARRINGTON — School administrators at Monument Mountain Regional High School are investigating the report of a racist threat.
"We take this very seriously," Superintendent Peter Dillon said Wednesday.
On the evening of Sept. 23, at a game against Athol, a Monument Mountain football player knelt during the national anthem. On Monday, another student in the high school said he would "lynch" the player and "use him for target practice."
Kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality has become a national movement in the month since San Fransisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the song. The movement has inspired students across the country, with high school football teams, bands, and others "taking a knee" during the anthem.
This incident comes on the heels of a local woman's protest action in downtown Great Barrington on Sept. 20 over the police shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla. Jennifer VanSant stopped traffic for 20 minutes that morning with a sign saying "Justice For Terence Crutcher," then continued her protest on the sidewalk.
VanSant told The Eagle last week that Kaepernick's protest is working.
"The movement could not have possibly set up better the kind of publicity it's had since he took a knee," she said.
Head Coach Chris D'Anniello told The Eagle that he supports his player's right to protest.
"To me, the flag stands for freedom," D'Aniello said. "And this was his choice."
The reaction has sparked an internal investigation in the high school. The administration is working to figure out exactly what happened and how to proceed. The student who made the threat is still in school and no disciplinary action has been taken yet.
It's not the first time the school has faced questions about the behavior of its students on racial issues. In 2014, administrators worked with Jewish organizations to combat anti-Semitic speech in the schools. Dillon told The Eagle the school had worked with Jewish organizations to increase tolerance in the school community.
He added that students' language can mirror what's going on in the wider world.
"I think it's reflective of the national mood," Dillon said.
For the football team the incident is a test, but D'Anniello said he believes the team is united. He told The Eagle that the team had a meeting to address the protest and to ensure players would be supported.
"We're a family," he said.