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Sunday, November 17, 2013
Racist graffiti prompts cancellation

ESPN.com news services

A high school football game has been canceled in a suburban town northwest of Boston and the FBI is reportedly investigating after racist graffiti was painted on the side of a player's house.

Lunenburg High School family
The family of Isaac Phillips, a player on Lunenburg High School's freshman team, says they were greeted Friday morning by racist graffiti that had been painted on the side of their house.

Lunenburg High School's freshman team had been scheduled to play Oakmont Regional on Friday night before the parents of an eighth grader who plays for the Lunenburg freshman team reported the graffiti to police, who then notified the school, according to reports.

The superintendent of the school district then ruled the game would be indefinitely postponed, local media have reported.

Andrea Brazier, the mother of Isaac Phillips -- who had been granted permission to play for the school's freshman and junior varsity football teams -- told reporters her family awoke Friday morning to see their home's foundation had been spray-painted. 

"Knights don't need n------," the graffiti said, noting the Lunenburg mascot.

Phillips has also been the subject of bullying incidents while on the high school teams, including having his cleats removed from his locker, filled with water and thrown in the trash can, his family says, according to the reports. The tires of a bicycle he used as transportation home from practice were also slashed, he said. 

The FBI and Worcester County District Attorney's office are investigating the situation, local police said in a statement released Saturday, according to WCVB-TV in Boston.

"I don't really understand why someone would even do something like this," Phillips told the ABC affiliate. "I have two younger brothers and another sister. This is our house, this is where we live. Eventually they're going to see it."

Phillips' mother is white. Isaac Phillips' father, Anthony, is half black.

"Unless you've been called it before, you really don't understand the feeling," Anthony Phillips told Boston's NBC affiliate, NECN-TV, referring to the racial slur used in the graffiti.

The Lunenburg incident has surfaced amid a pair of national controversies that feature a pivotal element arising from use of the racial slur.

The Miami Dolphins are being reviewed by the NFL after Jonathan Martin left the team after reportedly being the subject of harassment and bullying by fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito. Among other questionable circumstances at issue, Incognito left Martin a scathing voice mail rant that included the racial slur.

Lunenburg High School
The Lunenburg High School incident has surfaced amid a pair of national controversies that feature a pivotal element arising from use of a racial slur.

In the NBA, Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Clippers was fined $25,000 for, among other things, using the word on Twitter after being ejected from a game last week. He later apologized for the tweet before defending the word's use, saying that, in context, it can be used appropriately.

In its statement, the Lunenburg police sought to offer assurance the local turn of events was not representative of the town.

"As a community we offer our deepest support to the player and his family, and want to emphasize that Lunenburg is an inclusive, supportive community and this is not the sort of behavior we foster or tolerate," the statement said. "The nature of this crime has deeply impacted the team, the school and the entire community."

Phillips' mother said Isaac is now hoping to transfer to another school.

"He doesn't want to go to the school anymore. He's beyond upset about the whole situation," Brazier said, according to WCVB-TV. "It's upsetting. My kids all go there."