Tag Archive: mark j shuster insurance


 

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Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage, was detained by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on February 3, 2019.  ICE says British-born Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, better known by his stage name 21 Savage, overstayed his visa after coming to the U.S. at the age of 12 in 2005.   Lawyers for the rapper say he is being wrongfully detained and that his new visa application is currently pending.

Abraham-Joseph, 27, faces deportation after he was turned over to ICE by cops targeting his cousin, rapper Young Nudy.  Nudy, whose real name is Quantavious Thomas, was stopped by DeKalb County police and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a targeted stop.  Abraham-Joseph, happened to be riding with Thomas and has not been charged with any crime in connection with the stop.

ICE alleges that he entered the US legally in July 2005, when he was a minor but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his nonimmigrant visa.   ICE says Abraham-Joseph became unlawfully present when his visa expired in July 2006.  “Mr. Abraham-Joseph is presently in ICE custody in Georgia and has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts,” ICE said in a statement. “ICE will now await the outcome of his case before a federal immigration judge to determine future actions.”

His detention has provoked outrage among his fan base and has shone a spotlight on immigration proceedings.   An attorney for Abraham-Joseph said his representatives are working to secure his release.  “We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with the authorities to clear up any misunderstandings.”  His lawyers say that he was “left without legal status through no fault of his own” at the age of 13 and are arguing that his detention is based on “incorrect information about prior criminal charges.  They say that ICE is now refusing to release him on bond of any amount, despite the fact that he has a pending U-Visa application, and that he has relief from removal available to him.”  A U-Visa is available to crime victims who are willing to provide ‘helpful information’ to law enforcement.  His lawyer said that the feds have known his client’s address since he filed for the U-Visa in 2017 and questioned why they took no action until this weekend.

Abraham-Joseph, who has collaborated with some of the music world’s hottest stars, including Drake, Cardi B, Travis Scott and Post Malone, has had numerous encounters with the law and has never sought to hide his status from the authorities, his legal team say.  In 2014 he was convicted of drug possession in Fulton County  In 2016, he called the cops to report that someone had kicked in the door of his 10th Street condo, taking a Glock handgun, a Rolex and other jewelry, a Louis Vuitton bag and a safe containing $345,000.

His lawyers have argued that he is a “role model to the young people in this country, especially in Atlanta, Georgia, and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.”  He will now likely miss the Grammy’s ceremony, where he is up for record of the year for Rockstar with Post Malone.

 

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A federal grand jury has filed 19 new charges, including 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death and two counts of hate crimes involving attempted murder, as well as several others. Bowers, the accused gunman in last year’s mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, now faces 63 criminal counts.  The indictment against Bowers cited his online attacks on the Jewish charity HIAS, including posts from the day of the shooting.

On October 27, 2018, eleven Jewish worshipers were shot and killed in what has been described as the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.  Bowers, 46, allegedly opened fire on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and injuring 7 others.  He had made anti-Semitic comments on the extremist-friendly social network Gab shortly before the attack.  The Tree of Life synagogue housed three congregations and approximately 75 people were inside the building at the time.

As morning services were underway, just before entering, Bowers posted a final message to Gab, once again referencing the conspiracy theory. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” he wrote. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Bowers entered the synagogue at 9:50am and opened fire.  By 9:54am police began receiving multiple calls from people barricaded in the building reporting the attack.  Survivors say Bowers was shooting for around 20 minutes and at one point yelled “All Jews must die!”

Police arrived at 9:59 am and Bowers fired on police from the entryway, apparently on his way out of the building.  Police returned fire, causing the gunman to retreat into the building.  At 10:30 a.m., tactical teams entered the building and exchanged fire with Bowers.  Bowers was wounded during the exchange and retreated to a room on the third floor of the synagogue.  Two SWAT members were also wounded during the exchange.  At 11:08 a.m., the Bowers crawled out of the room and surrendered.  Bowers was allegedly armed with three handguns and an AR-15.

In his posts on his Gab profile, Bowers called Jewish people “the children of Satan” and in the days before the shooting, Bowers authored increasingly anti-Semitic posts.  On October 10, he posted about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a Jewish charity that was hosting charity events for immigrants. One of the events was at the Dor Hadash congregation, which was housed at the Tree of Life synagogue.  Bowers accused HIAS and its associated congregations of bringing “hostile invaders to dwell among us.” The claim is part of a white supremacist conspiracy theory that falsely claims Jewish people are trying to promote immigration to make countries less white. Bowers also posted anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi memes.  He was charged in federal court that month with dozens of offenses including 11 murder charges. Bowers had previously pled not guilty to the charges against him in October. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.bowers.jpg

 

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According to witness testimony during the trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto once accepted a $100 million bribe from drug traffickers.  Alex Cifuentes, who has described himself as Guzman’s onetime right-hand man, discussed the alleged bribe under cross-examination by one of Guzman’s lawyers in Brooklyn federal court.  Peña Nieto has not responded to the claim but has previously denied charges of corruption.

Cifuentes testified that he had told U.S. prosecutors Pena Nieto reached out to Guzman first, asking for $250 million, before settling on $100 million.  Cifuentes told the prosecutors that the bribe was paid in October 2012, when Pena Nieto was president-elect.  Pena Nieto was president of Mexico from December 2012 until November 2018 and previously served as governor of the State of Mexico.  Cifuentes also testified that Guzman once told him that he had received a message from Pena Nieto saying that he did not have to live in hiding anymore.

Guzman, 61, has been on trial since November after he was extradited to the United States in 2017 to face charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the country as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.  El Chapo had eluded capture for years, in part by widespread corruption along with elaborate means of escape from authorities.   He once narrowly escaped a raid at a safe house through a staircase that led to underground tunnels which was hidden under a bathtub.  He was captured by Pena Nieto’s government in February 2014 but broke out of prison for a second time 17 months later, escaping through a mile-long tunnel dug right into in his cell.  The jailbreak humiliated the government and damaged the president’s already questionable credibility.  Pena Nieto personally announced news of the kingpin’s third capture when he was again arrested in northwestern Mexico in January 2016.

Cifuentes is one of many witnesses who have testified against Guzman so far after striking deals with U.S. prosecutors, in a trial that has opened a window into the secretive world of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organization.  Many witnesses at the trial have also made accusations of high-level corruption.  Much of the evidence against Guzman has come from the prosecution’s star witness, Jesús Zambada.  Zambada testified that the Sinaloa cartel allegedly paid off a host of top Mexican officials to ensure their drug business ran smoothly.  He testified that in 1994, traffickers paid $50 million in protection money to former Mexican Secretary of Public Security García Luna, so that corrupt officers would be appointed to head police operations.  Zambada said that when former Mexico City Mayor Gabriel Regino was in line to become the next secretary of security, that the the cartel bribed him as well.  Both Garcia Luna and Gabriel Regina deny the accusations.  Zambada has also testified that paid a multimillion dollar bribe to an aide of current Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in 2005.

Edgar Galvan testified in that trusted hitman Antonio “Jaguar” Marrufo had a sound-proofed “murder room” in his mansion on the US border, which featured white tiles with a drain on the floor to more easily clean up after slayings.  Galvan’s role in the organization was to smuggle weapons into the US, so that Marrufo could use them to “clear” the region of rivals.  At the time, Galvan was living in El Paso, Texas, while Marrufo was living in Ciudad Juarez, just across the US-Mexico border.  Both men are now in jail on firearms and gun charges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bowlingalleyshooter.jpgAn arrest has been made in connection with the deadly shooting at a California bowling alley that left three people dead and four others wounded.  Police say Reginald Wallace, 47, of Los Angeles was identified as the suspect within 30 hours of the shooting and was arrested and is being held without bail.  Wallace is on parole after serving a 17-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon which involved a firearm and was released in 2017.  Felons are barred under state law from possessing firearms.

The shooting occurred just before midnight on Friday, January 4th at the Gable House Bowl in Torrance, about 20 miles south of Los Angeles.  Police say two women began fighting, then more people joined in and finally 10 to 15 people, both men and women were brawling.  It was then, police say, that Wallace shot into the crowd with a handgun and is believed to be the sole shooter in the incident.  It is unclear whether Wallace knew anyone in the bowling alley, but he was part of the larger group that was already inside the bowling alley.

The three deceased victims who died at the scene were identified as Michael Radford; 20, Robert Meekins; 28 and his friend Astin Edwards, also 28.  Meekins leaves behind a 5-year-old son.  Police said two injured males were taken to a hospital and two other males sought medical attention on their own.  Torrance Police Chief Eve Irvine said in a statement that there was complete chaos before Wallace started shooting.  “It was complete chaos, people were running all over, there were fights still occurring and when he pulled out the handgun, the minute people started hearing shots, even more chaos erupted.”

Wes Hamad, a 29-year-old Torrance resident, said he was at the bowling alley with his 13-year-old niece and cousin when he saw a “huge fight” break out. Hamad said the brawl, which lasted about five minutes, blocked the entrance and spiraled into complete chaos.  “I grabbed my niece and started running toward the far end of the bowling alley,” he said. “As we were running, we heard 15 shots.”  As he was leaving, Hamad said he saw a woman weeping over a man who had gunshot wounds to his head and neck.

Damone Thomas was in the karaoke section of the bowling alley when people ran in screaming that there was a shooter.  Thomas said his friend flipped a table to shield them as they heard gunshots.  Thomas said he didn’t feel scared because he was “just trying to survive.” It wasn’t until later, Thomas said that he realized how traumatic the situation was.  “Closing my eyes, all I can see is the women against the wall crying, not knowing what to do,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

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In France, the “yellow vest” protesters took to the streets again over the weekend. The protests against a fuel tax erupted on November 17th 2018 when people across France donned high-visibility vests, giving them their nickname the yellow vests, and went out to disrupt traffic.  Similar actions have followed every weekend and while the number of demonstrators has dropped, cities across France continue to see rioting and disruption.  At least six people have died and at least 1,400 have been injured as a result of the unrest.

What began as anger over green tax on vehicle fuel has grown into more general discontent with the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron, who protesters accuse of favoring the urban elite.  The intensity of the protests forced the government to halt the plans for the fuel tax hike but demonstrators called for additional economic reforms, and many for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.  While Macron said the tax was necessary to “protect the environment” and “combat climate change”, protesters claimed the decision was yet another sign that the “privileged” president is out of touch with regular folk struggling to make ends meet.

President Emmanuel Macron delivered a national address announcing he would raise the minimum wage and cancel a tax increase on low-income retirees.  He also proposed some social reforms, including an increase in the minimum wage by 100 euros ($113) a month beginning in January that will not cost employers extra and a promise that overtime hours will not be taxed.  While Macron’s announcement appeased some demonstrators, many continue to take to the streets.

Last week, a group of protesters in Paris rammed a forklift into a government ministry building, while violent confrontations between some demonstrators and police took place in the capital.  French security forces fired tear gas and flash-balls after a march through picturesque central Paris turned violent.  Rioters started fires on the prestigious Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris.  Police boats patrolled the river while beyond the Seine, motorcycles and a car were set on fire on the Boulevard Saint Germain.  Riot police and firefighters moved in with a water canon as barricades mounted in the middle of the wide street burned.

A reported 50,000 people across the country came out as the movement is now in its second month of protests.  While the number of rioters has dwindled from the 280,000 that joined the protests in November, the disruption and destruction of property continues.  The march had been declared in advance and approved, in contrast to some illegal December demonstrations that degenerated into vandalism, looting and chaos.

After two months of civil unrest, the government has declared it will crackdown on the disruption.  Prime Minister Philippe said the government would support a “new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare protests, those who take part in unauthorized demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks”.  Known troublemakers would be banned from taking part in demonstrations, in the same way known football hooligans have been banned from stadiums.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Tennessee woman who was convicted as a teenager for killing a man while she said she was a sex trafficking victim, was granted clemency.  Cyntoia Brown, now 30, was granted a full commutation to parole by Governor Bill Haslam and will be eligible for release Aug. 7 after serving 15 years in prison.  She will remain on parole for 10 years.  Brown was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.  In 2006, she was sentenced to life for the death of Johnny Mitchell Allen, who paid Brown for sex.

Her case gained national attention and awareness about the toll of human trafficking.  At the time, Brown had run away from home and was living with her 24-year-old boyfriend, a pimp known as “Kut Throat,” who Brown said raped her and forced her into prostitution.    According to Brown, on the night of August 6, 2004, Brown, then 16-years-old, met Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate broker and US Army veteran, in the parking lot of a Sonic Drive-In in Nashville.  Brown agreed to have sex with Allen for $150.  The two then ordered dinner and Allen drove them to his home.

At some point during the evening, Brown shot Allen in the back of the head with a .40-caliber handgun.  Brown said she feared for her life and shot Allen, 43, while in bed with him because she believed he was reaching for a gun.  She then stole $172 in cash, several firearms, and a vehicle, a Ford F150.  She drove the stolen truck to InTowne Suites where she was living with her pimp.

During her trial, prosecutors argued the motive was robbery and say Allen was shot as he slept. Brown’s supporters and lawyer have argued her sentence was too extreme, given her age and circumstances.  Nashville police detective Charles Robinson testified that she told investigators she shot Allen because she feared for her life.  In a letter dated Dec. 12, 2017, Robinson urged Haslam not to grant clemency to Brown.  “First and foremost, Cyntoia Brown did not commit this murder because she was a child sex slave as her advocates would like you to believe. Cyntoia Brown’s motive for murdering Johnny Allen in his sleep was robbery.”  Among the evidence cited by Robinson, was how Allen’s “arms were folded underneath his head and his fingers were interlocked together,” which was inconsistent with Brown telling investigators he was reaching for a gun.

Haslam said in a statement that the decision comes after careful consideration of “what is a tragic and complex case. Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16.  Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.”

While in prison, Brown has earned a GED and an associate degree in 2015 through the Lipscomb Initiative for Education Program with a 4.0 GPA, Haslam said. Brown said she is scheduled to earn her bachelor’s degree in May.  Brown said she is committed to live the rest of her life helping others, especially young people.  “My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been,” she said.

Brown thanked the governor and her supporters in a statement released by her attorneys.  “Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance,” Brown said. “I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”  Brown said she is grateful for the support, prayers, and encouragement she has received, including from Tennessee Department of Corrections officials.

 

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A Colorado man has been charged with murder and solicitation to commit murder in the death of his missing fiancée, Kelsey Berreth.  Patrick Frazee, 32, had a brief court appearance where he learned of the five charges against him.  Frazee is accused of working to find someone to kill Kelsey Berreth between September and November and causing her death on or around Thanksgiving.  They share a daughter together who is now in the custody of her maternal grandparents and child protective services.

The investigation into 29-year-old Kelsey Berreth’s whereabouts has drawn national attention.  Berreth disappeared on Thanksgiving Day and a police investigation was opened Dec. 2 after her mother Cheryl Berreth asked for a welfare check of her daughter.  On the morning of Nov. 22, Berreth was captured on surveillance video entering a Safeway grocery store at 12:05 p.m. with her 1-year-old daughter in a baby carrier. Frazee told authorities he picked up the couple’s daughter, Kaylee, from Berreth that afternoon-making him the last person to see her.

Investigators who went to the woman’s home found some cinnamon rolls in Berreth’s kitchen and both of her cars still in place outside the home. Doss Aviation, the company Berreth works for as a flight instructor, has accounted for all their planes and police have no reason to believe she used someone else’s plane for a flight.

Frazee has told police the couple, who are engaged but have never lived together, met to exchange custody of their daughter.  After that, police said the only signs of Berreth were text messages from her cellphone.  Frazee told police she last texted him Nov. 25, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Her employer, an aviation company, received a text message from Berreth’s phone the same day, saying the flight instructor planned to take the following week off.

Police later received data indicating Berreth’s phone was near Gooding, Idaho, nearly 800 miles from her home in Woodland Park. Before his arrest, Frazee had yet to speak directly with police about being the last person to see her, only communicating through his lawyer.  Law enforcement officers from several local, state and federal agencies are conducting an exhaustive search of Frazee’s 1 ½ story home and 35 acre cattle ranch in the Crystal Peaks Ranches subdivision near Florissant for possible evidence that could explain Berreth’s disappearance.

 

 

 

 

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The actor Kevin Spacey has been charged with felony sexual assault for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenager in a bar in Massachusetts in 2016.  A public show-cause hearing was held for the case Dec. 20 where Clerk Magistrate Ryan Kearney issued a criminal complaint for the charge against Kevin S. Fowler, also known as Kevin Spacey.  Spacey is due in court on January 7 to face the felony charge that could bring him up to five years in prison. Spacey has denied the charges.

The alleged assault on a male victim took place at a Nantucket bar in July 2016.  Last year, former Boston TV news anchor Heather Unruh held a press conference to share her son’s allegation of sexual assault against Spacey.  She stated that her then 18-year-old son said was sexually assaulted by Spacey inside the Club Car Restaurant on Nantucket. Unruh says her son was not of legal drinking age but had told Spacey he was and that the actor bought him drink after drink after drink.  “My son was a starstruck, straight 18-year-old young man who had no idea that the famous actor was an alleged sexual predator or that he was about to become his next victim,” she said at the time. “When my son was drunk, Spacey made his move and sexually assaulted him.”

The Nantucket Police Department began its criminal investigation in November 2017, said Massachusetts attorney Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney for the alleged victim.   The department has since transferred the case to the district attorney’s office.  Garabedian said in a statement, “The complainant has shown a tremendous amount of courage in coming forward. Let the facts be presented, the relevant law applied and a just and fair verdict rendered.”  Multiple men have come forward with accusations of sexual assault and harassment against Spacey since October 2017, which prompted Netflix to abruptly cut ties with and drop the actor from its hit political drama House of Cards.  Spacey is still under investigation in Los Angeles and in England for other alleged sexual assaults.

Soon after the charges were filed against Spacey, the actor posted a bizarre video to his Twitter account where he portrays his House of Cards character Frank Underwood.  The actor addresses his House of Cards fate while also saying that he knows his fans want him back.  “I know what you want,” Spacey begins in Frank’s accent. “Oh sure, they may have tried to separate us, but what we have is too strong, too powerful. After all, we shared everything, you and I. I told you my deepest, darkest secrets. I showed you exactly what people are capable of. I shocked you with my honestly, but mostly I challenged you and made you think. And you trusted me, even though you knew you shouldn’t. So we’re not done, no matter what anyone says. And besides, I know what you want. You want me back.”

“Of course, some believed everything and have been just waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all. They’re just dying to have me declare that everything said is true and that I got what I deserved. Only you and I both know it’s never that simple, not in politics and not in life,” he says. “All this presumption made for such an unsatisfying ending, and to think it could have been such a memorable sendoff.” He goes on to say that in both life and in art, nothing should be off the table: “I can promise you this. If I didn’t pay the price for the things we both know I did do, I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn’t do.”  Spacey ended the 3 minute video by directly calling out his death on House of Cards.  The actor puts on Frank’s signature ring before walking off. “My confidence grows each day that soon enough, you will know the full truth,” he says. “Wait a minute, now that I think of it, you never actually saw me die, did you? Conclusions can be so deceiving.”

 

 

 

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The Phoenix man involved in a murder suicide had lost his mother and brother to murder at the hands of his father.  Phoenix police say officers were doing a welfare check at a home on December 23rd at around 7:15 p.m. and forced their way inside after nobody came to the door.  Sgt. Tommy Thompson says they found 36-year-old Jocelyn Casdorph and 47-year-old Victor Issa dead.  A preliminary investigation indicates Victor Issa shot Casdorph and then himself.

Authorities say Victor Issa’s family had a history of domestic violence that resulted in the incarceration of his father and brother and the deaths of his mother and the same brother in California.  In 2010, his brother Amier Rocky Issa was convicted of slashing a former boyfriend’s face with a knife.  During jury deliberations, he fled to Las Vegas and was rearrested at the MGM Grand hotel with medications, large quantities of salt he had been eating, a rope and a tent, court records show.  Amier was sentenced to treatment at a state mental hospital and then to three years’ probation with further mental-health treatment and a domestic-violence class.

Six years later, between March 27 and 29, 2016, Shehada Issa fatally stabbed his wife inside their LA home and on March 29, 2016, fatally shot Amier Rocky Issa, 38 on the front lawn of the home.  The case drew national attention as family members said Shehada Issa wanted to kill his son because he was gay.

When police arrived at the family’s home, officers found the son’s body outside and the mother’s body was found inside a bathroom, according to evidence presented at trial.  Police said the father admitted to shooting his son with a shotgun, but said that it was in self-defense. His defense attorney argued that Amier Issa had killed his mother and threatened to kill his father with a knife, causing Issa to shoot his son in self-defense.   Detectives said Shehada’s story did not match with evidence at the scene, saying there was no knife found near his son’s body.

Prosecutors in the case told jurors that Issa thought he had committed the “perfect crime” by killing his wife and blaming it on his gay son, whom he claimed to have shot to death in self-defense.  According to prosecutors, Issa had a longtime gambling problem that caused him to have a constant need for cash and that Issa’s wife didn’t want to put their North Hills home up for sale.  The woman had told her husband that she would not sign home sale papers, and he responded by threatening her life and listing the home anyway.  During the trial, Victor Issa testified that his father was a troubled gambler who had a violent, abusive relationship with his mother Rabihah and an ever-increasing hatred for his gay son.  He told jurors about constant money problems and squabbles within the home as a result of his father’s gambling. He also said that when the defendant found out that Rocky was gay, “their relationship changed” and his father nursed a growing hatred for Amier Rocky.  He testified that his father detested the fact that his son was gay and was ashamed of him.  Victor said “He called him things like ‘whore of Babylon.’  It was constant for years. It was, ‘He deserves to die.’ ”   Shehada Issa was sentenced in 2017 to two consecutive life sentences plus 26 years in the murders.

Amier Rocky posted a message to Facebook ten days before the murder suicide saying he was worried that his parents, brother and sister were “literally controlling me in my sleep.  If there is a devil or evil spirit, I truly believe it manifests itself in my family.”

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The family of a New Jersey high school wrestler says racism drove a white referee to demand that their son, Andrew Johnson cut his dreadlocks before he could compete in a match. Video of the teen getting his hair cut with scissors in the gym sparked outrage.  The video was recorded just before the December 19th match and shows a sports trainer clumsily cutting the hair of the 16-year-old varsity wrestler, who’s dressed in a wrestling uniform and is visibly shaken to have his dreadlocks sheared off.  Johnson was told he had just 90 seconds to agree to the haircut or he would be forced to forfeit the match.  Andrew won the match in sudden victory in overtime.

Just out of the frame of the video—which has since gone viral—the referee, Alan Maloney, is directing the trainer to keep cutting Johnson’s hair until he was satisfied with its length.   Maloney had arrived late to the match and missed a weigh-in where referees would typically raise objections to a wrestler’s appearance.  Johnson was wearing his usual headgear and covering his hair when he stepped out to compete but the referee said his hair was not in compliance with state rules. The referee told Andrew his hair and headgear were not in compliance with league regulations.  Andrew told the referee he could push his hair back but the referee refused because Andrew’s hair “wasn’t in its natural state.”  He then gave the teen the ultimatum of cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting the match with just 90 seconds to decide.  According to the NFHS wrestling rule book, a wrestler’s hair cannot fall below the top of a shirt collar in the back, below his earlobes on the sides, or below his eyebrows.  If it is longer than the rule allows, the wrestler has to braid his hair or hide it beneath a hair cover attached to his ear guards, the rulebook states.

New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Executive Director Larry White said in a statement that state authorities are investigating the incident.  The referee won’t be assigned to moderate matches until the incident “has been thoroughly reviewed,” White said.  “Finally, as an African-American and parent — as well as a former educator, coach, official and athlete — I clearly understand the issues at play, and probably better than most,” White added.  A spokeswoman for the office of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said its civil rights division opened an investigation into the incident as part of a 2013 agreement with the NJSIAA “to address potential bias in high school sports.”

Charles and Rosa Johnson released a statement through their lawyer, saying they are overwhelmed with the unsolicited support their son has received – including from an Olympic wrestler, leading civil rights advocates, and elected officials.  They said their son has been dealing with the aftermath of the controversial incident.  “Wrestling has taught Andrew to be resilient in the face of adversity. As we move forward, we are comforted by both the strength of Andrew’s character and the support he’s received from the community. We will do all that we can to make sure that no student-athlete is forced to endure what Andrew experienced,” his parents said in the statement.

Dominic Speziali, the attorney representing the family, argued that the referee should have raised any concerns during the pre-match weigh-in.   Though the referee missed the weigh-in because he was late to the meet, he “failed to raise any issues with the length of his hair or the need to wear a head covering.”  The family defended the athletic trainer and their son’s coaches.  “As this matter is further investigated, the family wants to be clear that they are supportive of Andrew’s coaches and the team’s athletic trainer,” Speziali said. “The blame here rests primarily with the referee and those that permitted him to continue in that role despite clear evidence of what should be a disqualifying race-related transgression.”