Police called over controversy at In-Town basketball game

Natalie Becker, R3 Op-Ed Editor

At 5 p.m. on Dec. 8, the Westfield Police were called to WHS. That evening the Boston Celtics were playing the Golden State Warriors as the Westfield Basketball Association’s In-Town basketball league was in action. Adam Perry, a senior on the WHS varsity basketball team, stood on the sidelines, cheering on his friends when a celebration took a fast break into chaos.

After a three-point shot was made against Perry’s friend, WHS senior Jacob Singman, Perry tried hyping up the gym with cheers and shouts to Singman. One of the referees officiating the game asked Perry to get off of the court. Perry said, “I wasn’t [cheering] in an aggressive manner or interfering with game play at all: I made sure the ball was on the opposite side of the court.”

Soon after leaving the court, Perry was instructed by the referee to exit the gym. Perry made his way out of the gym, but later reentered to see the last few minutes of the game.

“When I made my way back into the gym, the referee told me, ‘You’re gonna leave the gym. Just watch,’” Perry said.

Moments after the final whistle of the game, the referee, who remains unidentified, headed over to his backpack and pulled out his phone. Noah Levy, a WHS senior, who was playing in the 5 p.m. game, heard that the referee was calling the cops on Perry, who is African American. Levy said, “After [the referee] hung up the phone I asked him if he called the cops and if he would’ve done the same thing if [Perry] was a white person because I felt [the referee] was racially profiling [Perry],” and continued to say, “He didn’t say anything. He just walked away.”

As Perry left the WHS building, he saw one Westfield Police car outside the building and another make its way down Dorian Rd. and into the driveway in front of WHS. Jake Sammartino, a WHS senior, who played in the 6 p.m. game, said, “[The referee] left in the middle of my game to talk to the police while someone was shooting free throws.”

Based on a Westfield Police Department report, the incident was described as “a verbal argument with a black male.” The report also included that Perry was GOA (gone on arrival); no follow up was conducted.

According to Levy, on Dec. 10, the unidentified referee approached Levy at Crunch Fitness in Garwood. Levy said, “He got in my face and called me a bitch and a p**sy multiple times; then said ‘for such a man let’s take it outside.’”

Levy questioned the referee’s intentions to engage in an altercation with an 18-year-old and walked away.

Four days after the incidents, Jim Lane, Vice President of the WBA, sent out an email on behalf of the association, to WBA members writing that “officials for WBA games are not employees of the WBA, but rather are independent contractors.”

WHS Athletic Director Sandy Mamary said, “[Hiring the officials for the WBA] is not under my jurisdiction,” and continued to say, “I’m trying to find the official’s name to make sure he doesn’t come into the athletic department in the capacity of being an official.”

Since then, the parents of Perry and Levy have informed the BOE and the WBA of the incident. The WBA has taken actions against the referee.

Lane wrote in an email on behalf of the WBA, “If there is a credible assertion of incompatibility of an official’s performance of duties with the values and goals of the WBA, the WBA discontinues any and all business relationship with such an official.”

“[Perry] and I hope to hear what he has to say and hopefully get an apology from him,” Levy said. Still on the search for the referee, Mamary added: “He gets a voice too. If his voice turns out to be the same as his actions, then the consequences should follow as they may.”