A referee's decision to force a high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks in order to compete in a match in December sparked a firestorm of criticism with many people accusing the referee of being racist. Following the controversy, a civil rights investigation was launched and the referee was suspended.
Despite the outcry, Andrew Johnson is still being targeted over his hairstyle. Johnson did not wrestle in his school's next match on December 19th to avoid being a distraction, but when he took the mat in early January, he was told he would need to cover his hair.
His mother questioned the referee and was told that they were referring to another wrestler, and not her son, but no other wrestlers were seen wearing hair coverings during the match. Johnson was able to wrestle in four matches without incident.
The issue came up again as Johnson was getting ready for a match on Wednesday (January 9). Prior to the match, a referee told school officials that Johnson would be required to wear a hair covering in order to compete, but the match was canceled just hours before it was set to begin.
The Johnson family's lawyer, Dominic Speziali, said that officials have "an unrelenting fixation on the hair of a 16-year-old young man."
"Yet it appears, for reasons that the Division can hopefully soon unmask, that certain officials have a desire to unnecessarily escalate and prolong this ordeal due on an unrelenting fixation on the hair of a 16-year-old young man that asked for absolutely none of this," he said.