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Exclusive: Long Island high school football players allege racism

Sarah Wallace has the exclusive story
February 7, 2014 7:56:07 AM PST
Explosive allegations by black varsity high school football players in Suffolk County, Long Island. They say they were the victims of racism by a predominantly white team and that referees did nothing.

Now, the players are suing.

The players claim that for years there has been an undercurrent of racism when they play certain teams, but it boiled to the surface during one critical game in November. The players say they were assaulted.

The beginning of a sideline clearing melee was caught on tape and that ended the playoff hopes of Amityville High School's varsity football team. The game at Comsewogue High School, abruptly cancelled.

These players and two others now claim they were taunted and targeted by the predominantly white Comsewogue players and their coaches, while referees did nothing to step in.

"They swarmed our players. They tried to hurt us. I was swarmed by not one, but 3 to 4 players, you know," said Travon Duncan.

Unfortunately, the only game video the players were able to obtain cuts out after a few seconds into the clash, which erupted when Amityville was called for a late hit in the third quarter.

"I guess you know, there are some people, you know, who say stuff like this happens. Obviously it was kind of a brawl," said Duncan. He adds, "But it wasn't a brawl. We were assaulted. We didn't want to fight as you see in the video."

Travon: "And I was scared during the entire situation, and their coach?And he grabbed me, viciously grabbed me, and he said in my ear, loud and clear, (N Word), I will kill you."
Sarah: "I'm sure they'll, he'll probably deny it."
Travon: "I wouldn't lie about something like that."

The other players say members of the coaching staff went after them too.

"And I remember the coach in my face, grabs me by the chest plate, he says I'm gonna F?kill you," said Ricky Jean-Michel.

Niem Harvey adds, "He grabs me and how he grabbed me, I was choking, So he's choking me and they didn't do nothing to stop his player from still attacking me, so this player's hitting me."

He goes on to add the refs didn't stop it at all. The players claims there had been multiple penalties in the first half by Comsewogue the refs didn't call. The tension was mounting.

"Before the halftime break, the kids are getting in our faces, like 'Yea it's coming for you all game, all game, (n word) this (n word) that," adds Ricky.

A witness statement by one of Amityville's coaches claims he saw "A few of Cosmewogue's coaching staff throwing punches, shoving and preventing our players from getting up from the floor." Amityville's principal filed a complaint about Comsewogue with Secion XI, which oversees high school athletics in Suffolk County, as well as with local police.

No one at Amityville wanted to talk on camera but the assitant superintendend told Eyewitness News in a statement, "The district is extremely concerned and disappointed with the actions that took place at Comsewogue."

Comsewogue refused to comment because of the pending lawsuit.

"Nothing has happened. We will not stand for that," said attorney Bonita Zellman. I feel that there should never become a point in my life where me playing a sport I enjoy, I don't want to play anymore," said Travon.

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