Civil Rights Complaint Filed Against Student Wrestlers, Coach

The federal complaint follows an alleged racially motivated attack by Santa Monica High School students.

A civil rights group has filed a federal complaint against two members of the wrestling team and their coach, Mark Black, it was announced Wednesday. The complaint follows in the wake of a highly publicized  in which two white wrestlers are accused of harassing a black member of the team.

The complaint was filed in U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte's Central district office by Najee Ali, director of the Los Angeles-based Project Islamic HOPE.

"Black walked in on the attack but never reported the hate crime to the police," Ali said in his complaint. "Instead he helped plan and participated in the coverup of the racist hate crime against one of his students by encouraging those who had taken pictures of the noose to delete them. Black and the students responsible for the attack must be brought to justice."

The complaint also stated that "terrorizing" an individual with a noose is a criminal offense that can lead to up to a year in jail or a fine of no more than $5,000. A noose was reported to have been placed in the locker room where the incident allegedly took place.

Previously, Ali called for a federal investigation into the alleged incident. (Go here to see video of his related news conference.)

“We are outraged that school officials are not taking this with enough seriousness,” he said. “Based on the racially motivated actions of the students, we feel that federal hate crime charges should filed.”

Ali was also one of dozens of people who expressed outrage toward the Board of Education at a meeting late last month. During his comments, he displayed a noose.

"Superintendent [Tim] Cuneo and school officials' delay in reporting the hate crime and not notifying the mother of the victim, Victoria Gray, were part of a shameless coverup of a vicious racist attack and hate crime," he said. “We are outraged by the superintendent’s office, the principal and law enforcement. ... It’s a slap in the face of all students who have the potential of being the victims of hate.”

Project Islamic HOPE is a nonprofit national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of all oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion, according to the organization’s website. The acronym stands for "Helping Oppressed People Everywhere."

According to a complaint filed with the , the white wrestlers used a cable to tie their black teammate to the locker while they yelled, "Slave for sale," and made other racially charged statements. It was also reported that a brown practice mannequin with a noose tied around the neck was found nearby.

The white students for allegedly restraining the black student. Also, the alleged “racial epithets” and undercurrents of the incident “could make it a hate crime.” The incident is currently under investigation.

Santa Monica High School administrators are being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The SMPD previously said there have been allegations that school administrators "had handled the incident unlawfully."

In mid-June,  publicly apologized to Victoria Gray during a board meeting. He said he felt the district had “erred” in not informing her about the alleged incident.

Cuneo met with Gray before the board meeting and, according to Cuneo, a mass e-mail was sent out explaining the steps the district is taking over the incident, including counseling support and orientation for future freshmen.

“We do not tolerate this on our campus and [we] take it very seriously," Cuneo. "We’ll take every step to make sure that all students are respected on our campus, and we want to promote a positive environment and celebrate diversity."

More on the alleged Santa Monica High School incident:


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