Massachusetts High School Forfeits Football Season Over Racist Graffiti

PHOTO: Lunenburg High School football player Isaac Phillips, second from right, is shown during a candlelight vigil in his honor.
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A racial slur spray-painted on the house of a Massachusetts high school football player has prompted school officials to forfeit the remainder of the season as federal and local officials investigate the perpetrator behind the graffiti.

Isaac Phillips, 13, who is in eighth grade but plays on the Lunenburg High School football team, said when members of his family went outside Friday morning they found a racial slur tagged across its property.

"Knights don't need n******," the graffiti said. Blue Knights is the team's nickname. Lunenburg is located 55 miles northwest of Boston.

The teenager's mother is white. His father is half black.

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

The graffiti happened on the same day that Phillips said his cleats were thrown in a trash can and the tires on his bicycle were slashed in the school parking lot.

"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 nature of this crime has deeply impacted the team, the school and the entire community," read a statement posted on the Lunenburg Public Schools website.

The allegations of racism on the part of the team brought to light two other incidents that were reported earlier this month in games between Lunenburg High School and Worcester South High High School.

One junior varsity game ended in a shoving match after a tackle, with a referee reporting that racial epithets were used. In a varsity game between the same two schools, a Lunenburg player was accused of using a racial slur against a player on the opposing team. Investigations are underway in both cases, Lunenburg Public Schools Superintendent Loxi Jo Calmes told ABC News in an email.

Lunenburg Has Echoes of NFL Hazing Scandal

The Lunenburg story has echoes of the rookie hazing scandal that has enveloped the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

Veteran Richie Incognito was suspended indefinitely on Nov. 4 after rookie Jonathan Martin turned in voice mails and text messages that allegedly showed Incognito using the N-word to describe Martin and threaten his family, according to ESPN.

The controversy came to light after Fox Sports reported that Martin and other rookies had been forced to pay thousands of dollars for dinner tabs and vacations for more veteran members of the team.

"What's going on is something that couldn't have been a worse nightmare," franchise owner Stephen Ross said earlier this month.

Ross said he asked the NFL to lead an independent investigation into the Dolphins' workplace and was committed to making sure "we are the best organization in the NFL."

Incognito, in an interview with Fox's Jay Glaze, addressed the accusations of hazing and racism he has faced since his suspension.

"My actions were coming from a place of love," he said. "No matter how bad or how vulgar it sounds, that's how we communicate, that's how our friendship was. Those are the facts and that's what I'm accountable for."

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