A Connecticut school board meeting ended early after a fight broke out in the Glastonbury High School auditorium. According to footage taken by NBC Connecticut, which was there covering the meeting, board member Ray McFall was punched by a member of the crowd during the meeting’s recess.
The two men had to be separated and the meeting ended without a vote. Police are currently investigating the incident. No arrests have been made and the identity of the attacker is unknown.
The fight broke out during the meeting’s recess. Video shows Ray McFall walking into the crowd when he is confronted by a man. The man gets in the school board member’s face, and it appeared the two men started to have an argument. McFall tried to push the man away and that was when the community member decided to punch him.
According to witnesses, Ray McFall was keeping strict time limits on residents speaking during the meeting and they believe that the man who punched him could have been upset that he was cut off.
Many community members are asking why a simple school board matter had to be taken this far.
“I couldn’t believe that that kind of thing could go on in our school system,” said Jennifer Muller, who watched the meeting virtually from home. Muller has a daughter that goes to Glastonbury High School.
According to reports, the Glastonbury High School board meeting was called to discuss a change in the school’s mascot. Over 2,500 community members had signed a petition to reinstate the old school mascot, a Native-American themed mascot that was removed last year over concerns that it was “insensitive.”
Supporters of the Native American mascot said that it allowed their community to teach children about Native American culture and honor the tribe.
The mascot issue became a big problem in Glastonbury, C.T. during the pandemic and many community members believed that the issue was handled “under the cover of Covid-19.” Some complained that they never got a chance to voice their opinions before the mascot was removed.
“The way it got done — under what everybody in town is saying is the cover of Covid. There was never really a moment in time for the public to get together and voice their opinion,” said John Cavanna. Cavanna was called to break up the fight because he is a police officer in a neighboring town.
While some were upset about the mascot, many agreed that the school board meeting shouldn’t have ended in a violent fight. Community members said that the two men were setting a bad example for Glastonbury’s children.
Steven Piersa, a member of the community, argued that people are getting heated because they are fed up with the pandemic and the high stress climate that we are living in. He said, “With everything that’s going on and everybody’s directing how to live their life, what you should be doing, ‘Oh, that’s not acceptable’, you know, everyone’s getting pushed up in a corner and, eventually, people are going to lash out.”
Following the violent school board meeting, Glastonbury School Superintendent, Alan Bookman, issued a statement regarding the fight that broke out.
He said, “The Board of Education welcomes public comment and appreciates that there will always be passionate testimony when controversial issues are considered. But it is critical that we listen to each other with respect and follow meeting rules so that everyone can be heard.”
Glastonbury police officers continue to investigate the fight, and it is unclear whether the school mascot matter will be brought up at the next school board meeting.