The family of a Black high school basketball player is taking legal action against a New Jersey school and its superintendent after they claim their son was subjected to racist taunts and jeers from home team fans after laying down an impressive 20-point performance.
In their lawsuit filed Feb. 22, the parents of 18-year-old Nasir Dickerson allege their son was pelted with racial slurs and “monkey noises” as his mother, father, sister, and grandma cheered him on from the stands, the New Jersey Herald reported. At one point, Dickerson’s father was booted from the game by an armed guard and the superintendent after standing up to his son’s haters, the suit claims.
The parents claim the varsity baller has suffered “considerable psychological distress, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, among other things,” as a result of the incident, according to the lawsuit.
The chaos unfolded during a Feb. 13 game against Wallkill Valley Regional High School in Hamburg, N.J. The complaint, filed by the family’s attorney, comes just three days after the athlete’s mother, Stefanie Dickerson, detailed the harrowing encounter in a now-private Facebook post, in which she accused school administrators of “doing NOTHING” to stop the racist harassment.
“What happened to our son at Wallkill Valley Regional High School was very disturbing,” she wrote. “How can this school system allow such hatred at a High School basketball game and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT IT!”
According to her claims, fans of the opposing team continued harassing Nasir, who plays for Lenape Valley Regional High School, by sticking up their middle fingers and calling him a “n—-r monkey” as he returned to the bench with under a minute left in the game. It was during this time that Dickerson and his family “were in serious fear for their lives,” the suit alleges.
“However, Nasir, being the victim of previous hate crimes (in which he was allegedly strangled with a rope by a white classmate), attempted to persevere throughout the game and succeeded in scoring 20 points for his team,” it states.
That’s when the teen’s father, Ashon Dickerson, stood to applaud his son for an amazing game, flipping the bird right back at Nasir’s hecklers in the process. However, it wasn’t long before two white men approached and demanded that he leave.
“As my husband sat down, 2 caucasian men aggressively ran up the bleachers (one with a firearm on his hip),” Stefanie Dickers recalled. “The one without the firearm was Superintendent David Carr, and the first words out his mouth was ‘Get Out!!’ When my husband asked ‘Why? I’m a parent? Who do you think your talking to like that?’ … Superintendent David Carr told my husband [to] “Get up and Get out or you will be arrested.”
The armed security guard escorted Nasir’s father to the door, and the grandmother left too. Dickerson said she and her daughter stayed behind so that the player wouldn’t have to leave the gym alone.
On their way out, Stefanie claimed a few Wallkill students shouted, “you don’t belong here!” The outraged mother said she asked the armed guard who’d escorted her husband out to please control the students, to which she says he replied, “They are under control. Why are you still here?”
In their complaint, Dickerson’s parents slammed the school for failing to take meaningful action against the students involved, arguing there is “clear evidence that Wallkill Valley Regional High School doesn’t have a reasonable anti-bullying policy that may have prevented the hate crimes from occurring.”
According to a screenshot, one witness who attended the game and claimed to have heard the racist taunts reached out to Nasir to apologize for the “disrespectful” behavior of her peers, calling the students “the scum of Wallkill.” Other social media users expressed outrage over the incident and blasted Wallkill officials for their inaction.
The family’s lawsuit seeks compensatory, punitive and special damages, as well as attorney’s fees.
“It’s horrible,” Stefanie Dickerson said. “He’s a great kid, a good student. He felt like he was singled out because he’s the only black boy on the team. He doesn’t understand why this is happening to him.”