Anti-Semitic complaints investigated at football match in Cheshire

CHESHIRE, CT – Authorities continue to investigate reports of anti-Semitic and racist incidents during Friday night’s soccer game between Cheshire and Staples-Westport at Cheshire High School.

Westport students complained to Cheshire police during the game that Cheshire students were waving an Israeli flag which they saw as an effort to insult their religion, officials said.

WFSB 3 reported that the Westport School District first became aware of the situation when pictures and posts began to surface on social media.

Westport Superintendent Thomas Scarice warned the community this weekend to take a “measured approach” to the allegations given “social media volatility,” according to WFSB 3.

Cheshire Superintendent Jeffrey Solan issued a statement Sunday night “to provide some context and clarity” on what happened during the game.

“To be clear, the investigation is by no means over at the moment,” Solan said. “It is important that those with first hand information continue to share this information with the administration of Cheshire High School or Staples High School in Westport. That being said, we believe it is important to disclose what we know right now.

“A complaint was lodged with Cheshire police officers that Cheshire high school students were waving an Israeli flag. The students at Cheshire High School holding the blue and white flag who were themselves in fact Jewish, did so as part of a red, white and blue theme that the student section was celebrating that evening. were in fact confused and concerned that they had been ordered to put away their heritage flag without understanding why.

Allegations of the presence of a waved Confederate flag and insulting chants have also been made. A thorough examination of the footage as well as a preliminary questioning of those present on Friday evening have not yet substantiated this allegation.

“It is deeply concerning that America is going through a period of high anti-Semitic acts. Cheshire public schools are deeply opposed to any expression of hatred and remain committed to aggressively combating such behavior.

“Cheshire Public Schools are incredibly grateful to have continued communication and collaboration with Westport Public Schools and the Connecticut Anti Defamation League since these alarming allegations surfaced. Again, Cheshire and Westport Public Schools will continue to investigate these allegations as we share the common goal of responding to all expressions of hate within our respective communities and will not cease until we are satisfied that this situation has been fully resolved. ”

Scarice sent a similar message to the Westport community, claiming that the waving of the Israeli flag was “not intended to intimidate the Jewish people or motivated by anti-Semitism.”

Scarice also said the district immediately sought advice from the state Anti-Defamation League office due to “increasing reports of anti-Semitic and racist incidents.”

“The Cheshire Public Schools Administration and the Cheshire Police Department have been very collaborative and in constant communication with our administration and police department, sharing information and supporting each other in their investigations,” Scarice wrote in the message. “We are very grateful for this cooperation.”

Scarice said camera footage of the Cheshire Police Corps confirmed that Staples cheerleaders were complaining about the waved Israeli flag and that the administrator ordered the students to put it away. He also said that at this stage of the investigation – which includes reviewing photos, videos and interviews with students, staff and police – there is no “corroborating evidence to support the claim. presence of a Confederate flag “.

“That said, Westport Public Schools are fully committed to completing our investigation by speaking with every student or community member personally affected by these events,” said Scarice. “We will listen to every first-person eyewitness account of these events and reserve actions before concluding our investigation. Receiving this information from our colleagues in Cheshire is helpful, but we must fulfill our obligation to listen to every account. Administration will continue to continue. these efforts and provide ongoing updates to the community.

“It is essential that the community understands the level of transparency and rigor that we have adopted.

“Westport Public Schools and ADL, as well as Cheshire Public Schools, remain committed to the fight against anti-Semitism and racism in all their forms and stand united in this effort. School administrators will be available to discuss this situation with all the students who want it. We continue to collect facts from eyewitnesses, so please allow us sufficient time to fully assess what happened and determine the appropriate response. “

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