A Connecticut parent was caught on video punching a board member at their child’s school during a tense meeting over the school’s decision to retire its Native American mascot for a less controversial nickname.
Many at the Tuesday meeting at Glastonbury High School were attempting to restore the school’s mascot to the Tomahawks after the school changed the nickname to the Guardians last year, citing appropriation of Native American culture.
Over 2,500 residents had signed a petition demanding the old name be reinstated.
One of the parents at the meeting – identified as Mark Finocchiaro – confronted board member Ray McFall during a recess and their argument got physical as a cell phone camera rolled.
Finocchiaro – a 53-year-old who owns a barbershop in South Glastonbury – confronted 57-year-old McFall – an ex-Marine – with the two standing nose-to-nose.
‘This is the history of our town,’ Finocchiaro can be heard saying.
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Ray McFall is seen confronting Mark Finocchiaro after Finocchairo’s comments at a school board meeting meant to address the school changing its mascot name from the Tomahawks to the Guardians
The old and new logos and nicknames for Glastonbury High School, which changed from the Tomahawks to the Guardians
McFall pushes Finocchiaro, who then responds by slugging the ex-Marine and knocking him to the ground
McFall was not seriously injured but was dropped to the ground by Finocchiaro’s punch to the face
Ray McFall, an ex-Marine, now serves on the town of Glastonbury’s public school board of education
McFall is seen lightly pushing Finocchiaro away before Finocchiaro floors McFall with a punch.
The ex-Marine did not appear to be badly injured and Glastonbury Councilmember John Cavanna stepped in to stop the fight.
‘I was up near the stage area when I heard voices get raised, and I turned to make my way over there,’ Cavanna, who is also a sergeant with nearby Hartford police said. ‘Folks in the audience know me as the type of guy that will maintain order. So people started yelling my name, and I turned to see Mr. McFall, who had apparently gone off to confront the other gentleman.’
A spokesperson for the Glastonbury Police Department told DailyMail.com on Thursday that no charges have been filed yet and the investigation is ongoing.
Finocchiaro was the only one of the 40 residents who spoke during public comment at the meeting.
Miranda Beach – Finocchiaro’s niece – told the Daily Beast the family is in contact with both authorities and lawyers and don’t want to comment until ‘we get that all figured out.’
Finocchiaro was the only one of the 40 residents who spoke during public comment at the meeting to get contentious with the board members
The board of education stopped the meeting without voting on the matter.
‘The Board of Education welcomes public comment and appreciates that there will always be passionate testimony when controversial issues are considered,’ said School Board Superintendent Alan Bookman in a statement. ‘But it is critical that we listen to each other with respect and follow meeting rules so that everyone can be heard.’
The name was changed after the school formed a committee to study the issue in the wake of social justice reforms following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
The change was spurred on by a request from the National Congress of American Indians asking them to get rid of it.
Students and faculty were allowed to suggest a new name and a student designed the new logo for the school, located about 40 miles northeast of New Haven.
Glastonbury residents stated in a petition that they were denied the chance to ‘provide meaningful input’ as the school board was only meeting online due to the pandemic and only accepting public comment via the internet.
One student wrote there was no sense changing the name because it’s a tool used by many and that there is no representative of a Native American in the logo, unlike the Indians or the Chicago Blackhawks or the former Washington Redskins.
Many schools in Connecticut have gone through struggles with renaming mascots referring to Native Americans in recent times. Nearby West Hartford Public Schools board will take a vote soon about whether or not to change the names of the Conard High Chieftains and the Hall High School Warriors.
In 2020, after dropping the Redmen mascot, the Killingly Board of Education voted to reinstate it, according to the Hartford Courant.
Last year, the state legislature passed a provision to withhold slot machine revenue from Connecticut’s two tribal casinos from any towns whose schools continue to use Native American mascots.
Nationally, several professional and college teams have discarded Native American-tied nicknames and logos, including the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, who announced they would be called the Guardians in a decision that has also stirred outrage.