A school board member in Glastonbury, Connecticut was reportedly punched in the face by a parent on Tuesday, Dec. 14, after a meeting regarding the school’s newly-changed mascot took a violent and confrontational turn.

Ray McFall, the 57-year-old board member, was allegedly punched by 53-year-old parent and former Marine Corps officer Mark Finocchiaro, who confronted McFall during the 10-minute break of the public forum regarding the change of the Glastonbury High School's official mascot, the Daily Beast reported.

Their mascot and team name was changed from the Glastonbury Tomahawks to the Glastonbury Guardians in 2020 and was supported by the National Congress of American Indians when it was announced. However, growing resistance to the change has come from many parents, saying that they do not see how it reappropriates Native American culture, according to the Hartford Courant.

“It’s not like Glastonbury is ‘stealing their tool’ or ‘making fun of it’ when it’s something you can find at any local hardware store and it has proven to be a very helpful tool,” high school senior Erin Cabana wrote. “What is offensive about an ax?”

Due to the pandemic, a public forum was not formed and many responses had to be taken online. A petition from residents of Glastonbury has asked for the reinstatement of the name and logo of the school, saying that the online process denied them a way to provide input on the change.

Glastonbury Town Councilman John Cavanna, who attended the public forum, saw the altercation and attempted to defuse the situation between the two attendees.

“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,” Cavanna said.

Because of the altercation, the meeting was adjourned without any meaningful voting on the issue. The Glastonbury Public Schools Board later provided a statement decrying the violence that happened between the parents and the board members.

“The Board of Education welcomes public comment and appreciates that there will always be passionate testimony when controversial issues are considered,” the statement said. “But it is critical that we listen to each other with respect and follow meeting rules so that everyone can be heard.”

Known for its racist connotations, many schools have attempted to change the names and mascots of their sports teams that reference Native American culture, though some communities have been resistant to the change due to their political beliefs.

A Connecticut school board meeting had to be adjourned after a board member and a parent found themselves in a scuffle over the mascot and team name of the local high school, which references Native American culture. This is a representational image. Dulcey Lima/Unsplash.

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