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NAACP calls for removal of former Danvers hockey coach from school role following racist allegations

DANVERS, Mass. — Danvers leaders faced new fallout from alleged violent racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic behavior by its high school boys hockey team.

Thursday night during a town meeting, the NAACP pushed for Danvers town officials, including the Police Department, to make changes in the wake of the scandal and their role in the controversy.

The group is calling for the town to remove the former high school hockey coach, Stephen Baldassare from his current position as supervisor of school resource officers.

At the time of the incidents, Danvers Police Sgt. Steve Baldassare was the high school’s hockey coach.

Coach Baldassare claims he never knew what was happening in the locker room. The Attorney General’s office also announced it is now investigating the handling of those allegations.

Last fall, parents and hockey players reported racist hazing rituals on the team. The NAACP says those rituals, and a lack of transparency by Danvers leaders, have caused trauma for residents of color.

Racist & homophobic graffiti, 2 swastikas found in bathroom of Danvers middle school ]

Boston 25 reached out to the Danvers School district for a comment regarding the investigation, “from the outset, starting with the initial outreach to the school department, the district has been receptive to the review process initiated by the Attorney General’s office.  We have made ourselves available to answer all of their questions, we have provided all documentation that has been requested of us, and we are prepared to implement recommendations that may follow,” said the department.

[ Attorney General investigating Danvers Public Schools’ Response to 2019-2020 racism allegations ]

The North Shore NAACP will have a news conference to discuss this issue further Friday morning, but in Thursday’s meeting, members held back tears speaking in front of the Danvers Human Rights & Inclusion Committee Thursday about the of the 2019-2020 Danvers boys hockey team.

“Please imagine your child was abused at school, was taunted with direct pictures of racist violence and then discovering that the very authority figure charged with supporting them was denying the abuse and failed to act,” said Branch President Natalie Bowers.

The NAACP spent the last 6 months putting together it’s report with recommendations to share with this committee as well as the town manager, and police chief.

You can read the full report here. We warn you, much of it may be triggering to many.

It says the rituals happened under the supervision of then hockey coach Baldassare, who was also a police Sgt. at the time and still oversees the school resource officers.

“We have heard from many residents who have been personally traumatized by the unaddressed and thriving racial trauma here,” said Danvers resident Lisa Silva.

Some of those Recommendations include tweaking the Hiring Process. Rebuilding trust in the Community starting by removing that sergeant, owning up to mistakes made with transparent communication with the public, and offering further training to officers on the force

The committee says it will review the report and discuss it at its next meeting, but the chairman expressing his support.

“I’m sick of waking up and being in front of the newspaper for the wrong reasons so we have to do better so Danvers if you’re listening lets do better,” said Dutrochet Djoko, chairman of Danvers Diversity Committee.

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