When news of a brawl at a game broke on social media, some started questioning the disciplining of student-athletes. Others said the fight is just a part of a bigger issue in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
As concession-stand workers and others were setting up at a Friday night football game between Miami Carol City and Miami Norland senior high schools, they heard screaming and commotion.
“I walked up to the ramp and saw nothing but chaos, people everywhere,” said Milton Parris, Norland Alumni president. “There were kids everywhere from each team. You could not make out who was who.”
According to Parris and others in attendance, it took several police officers and other adults to stop the Sept. 14 fight.
“It was the wildest and perhaps worst scene ever” witnessed at a sporting event in Miami, said William ‘D.C.’ Clark, president of the Inner City Alumni for Responsible Education.
The organization advocates for educational and economic inclusion for the predominantly Black high schools in Miami-Dade County’s inner city. Those are Miami Central, Northwestern, Carol City, Norland, Jackson, Edison and Booker T. Washington high schools.
“Last week there was a brawl between two of OUR schools [sic] football teams that warranted 15 Miami Dade School Police to respond and an additional 40 or more Miami Dade Police just to break up the melee,” wrote Clark on Facebook Friday morning.
Clark, Parris and other alumni of some of the above-mentioned schools are asking for the school district to intervene and hold the players accountable for their actions.
“We are calling for both Board Members, Dorothy Bendross Mindingall and Steve Gallon III to meet with ICARE, school Administrators and Coaches to address this problem,” wrote Clark. “How in the hell can we ask our students to elevate themselves to new heights when our leaders remain mum on situations such as the one mentioned above.”
Gallon, board member for the district, responded to Clark’s Facebook post on Friday, agreeing with the need for further action.
“As a school board member, former superintendent, and more uniquely, the former principal of one of the most successful and storied athletic programs in Miami-Dade County history, I do not and will never condone any actions or behavior on the part of coaches or players that impugn the dignity and sportsmanship of school athletics,” Gallon said in a prepared statement on Monday.
“That being said, although I was in attendance at the game in question, I did not personally witness any conflicts during the game, and was informed that the alleged incident that occurred before the game was addressed by each school.
“As District 1 Board Member, I was informed that appropriate actions and preventative measures had been taken by the schools and District."
However, since the incident was not recorded there is no way to identify the specific players involved, Gallon said.
“As I wasn’t there and rely on verbal accounts, the ‘who did what’ remains in question,” wrote Gallon. “What can’t happen is punishing all for the actions of some. Who the ‘some’ are is the question.”
Parris, who witnessed the fight, said that he believes someone somewhere has footage. He said some of the police officers who responded to the incident were wearing body cameras. Parris also said he suspects that the students, in this digitally connected era, may have had documented the incident as well.
Fatimah Gottie, president of Carol City’s alumni association said that the fight was addressed by the schools’ principals, athletic directors and the regional director.
“I think everyone has respectably moved on and no occurrences have happened on our end, to our recollection following the incident,” wrote Gottie on Facebook. “However, there is always room for preventative measures to be put in place for all schools to prevent any further incidents similar to those that have occurred.”
Gottie, told The Miami Times on Monday, that she was not at liberty to speak on the topic, and “it was part of an ongoing investigation.”
Martin Maultsby, president of the Florida Youth Football League, made mention of many similar occurrences throughout the season and questioned why this particular game is being singled out.
In fact, the following night a verbal altercation took place between the coaches at a Miami Edison and Central game.
Incidents such as these cannot be “sweep under the rug,” said Clark. It can lead to more serious issues.
“Those kids tend to take things that happened in school out in the street,” he said.
Since he wrote the social media post, some people have accused Clark, a Miami Central alumnus, of targeting Carol City’s team because of its undefeated record this season.
Carol City has defeated Norland for the last three years. They won over Norland 36-7 that night.
The rivalry for the two schools is strong because both schools are located in the same neighborhood, said Parris. The players may know each other from home, social media or middle and or elementary school.
This has nothing to do with Carol City’s standing said Clark, but everything to do with setting an example for every ICARE school to follow.
“We expect more from our schools and programs, and we would be hypocrites if we demanded excellence for others and not demand the same from ourselves,” said Clark.
The incident also sheds light on a deeper issue in M-DCPS — the lack of regard for sports programs, said Clark.
According to Clark, Miami-Dade County has one of the best performing football programs in the country, but it is not given the attention it deserves from the district.
“It has the equity to take care of the schools,” he said. Clark said he and others have been trying to get the district to upgrade the football field at Central for years.
ICARE schools are forced to play on the “old antiquated” Traz Powell Stadium in Miami, Clark wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.
“This is why we get all out brawls at our games. This is why we get opposing coaches cursing each other out before a contest,” he continued. “Low wages, dilapidated facilities and a District that doesn’t give a damn about their sports programs is a recipe for disaster.”