GREAT BARRINGTON — The Great Barrington Police Department is investigating a hate speech threat in Great Barrington's Monument Mountain Regional High School and the FBI is aware of the case.

"The FBI heard about the incident and also called us to inquire and offer any assistance," Police Chief William Walsh said in a statement. "We are keeping them advised of the investigation."

The investigation concerns an incident from last week around a school football player's protest. On September 23, at a game in Athol, a player "took a knee" during the nation anthem. The following Monday, September 26, another student in the high school said he would "lynch" the player and "use his body for target practice."

Another student reported the incident to school authorities. Superintendent Peter Dillon confirmed to The Eagle that the school's administration is looking into the matter.

As of this report no internal action has been taken at the school, pending the results of a school investigation. Requests for comment from Principal Maryann Young on Friday were not returned.

"Taking a knee" has become a popular form of protest in the months since backup San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for The Star Spangled Banner during a practice game in August. The protest has spread across the National Football League and to high schools across the country.


Reactions like the one at Monument have been isolated but have occurred in other high schools. In Brunswick, Ohio, senior Rodney Axson received death threats, including lynching threats, after he took a knee in early September.

FBI Boston office spokeswoman Kristen Sereta confirmed to The Eagle that the department knows about the situation.

"We are aware of the incident," Sereta said in a statement.

Sereta could not confirm or deny the existence of any FBI investigation of the matter, citing Department of Justice policies.

Walsh said the investigation is ongoing and that the police department is working to assess whether or not the comments fall under hate speech and threats. The department has interviewed several people about the case.

The investigation is ongoing, Walsh said, and he hopes to have it concluded in the next few days.

"We are taking this incident very seriously," Walsh said.