CLARK, NJ – The picture shows a black puppet, hanging by a string looped around its neck and hand, a basketball attached to one end. This puppet is reportedly what greeted players from the Plainfield High School girls basketball team when they arrived at the Arthur L. Johnson High School for a Saturday morning game, according to posts on a Plainfield community Facebook page.
“When others go low, we must continue to go high! Racism is alive and well...,” Terence Johnson posted in The Buzz In and Around Plainfield, New Jersey. “PHS girls bball team found this in the locker at they game today at A.L Johnson in Clark!”
Johnson, an announcer for Plainfield home games and a self-proclaimed "Plainfield basketball fanatic," is the director of an AAU basketball team on which several of the Plainfield High School girls play. He commended the team's coach, Keshon Bennett, on his handling of the situation.
"He did the right thing in my book by playing and making sure the girls were back on the bus safely without causing a scene," Johnson said. "You can't fight evil with evil, ignorance with ignorance... He is doing a tremendous job with our ladies program after only getting the job in Nov. 2016. I could tell from the first game of the season that we hired the right coach, and with his actions today of taking the high road to ensure the safety of our Plainfield girls without flipping out shows he is good for the Plainfield community."
Clark Superintendent of Schools Edward Grande confirmed the visiting team was lodged in the school’s puppetry room, which is located across from the gymnasium. The puppet is one that would have been found in the room, he said. He deferred additional comment to a prepared statement.
“The Clark Board Education and the Clark Community does not condone any demonstrations of intolerance,” the statement read. “The Board will promptly and thoroughly investigate this matter to determine what occurred following the basketball game on January 7th and will take remedial action as necessary. It is premature to make any further statements until such time as the investigation is completed. Good sportsmanship and respect of fellow and opponent teammates has and will always continue to be an integral part of Crusader Athletics.”
A call to Plainfield coach Keshon Bennett was not immediately returned.
More on this story as it develops.