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High School Wrestlers Won't Be Charged for 'Lynching' Photo

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Nothing says racism like a photo of white males lynching an effigy while wearing mock Ku Klux Klan hoods. But a New Jersey high school wrestling team's "ignorance" has helped them to avoid charges for snapping the inflammatory pic.

How did these wrestlers avoid hate crime charges?

Phillipsburg Wrestlers Dodge Criminal Charges

The Phillipsburg High School wrestling team will not be charged in criminal court after staging themselves in a mock lynching photo. The photo depicted a wrestling dummy hung by its neck wearing a rival school's shirt, with two of the members wearing hoods resembling those worn by KKK members, reports The Star-Ledger.

In a statement released Thursday, the Warren County Prosecutor's Office concluded after its investigation that "no criminal charges will be filed at this time." It left the latter to Phillipsburg High School for any "administrative action."

Even though the photo didn't physically harm anyone, it is possible the boys could have been charged under New Jersey's hate crime laws. Other states have made it illegal to threaten others by hanging a noose with intent to terrorize, and the wrestling photo doesn't seem a far cry from that.

School Discipline Is Possible

For their part, the wrestlers say they are "truly sorry" for the incident, but mostly blamed it on their youth, reports Gothamist. Adolescence is a rough time for many high schoolers, yet somehow most aren't featured in racist tableaus.

In an editorial, the South Jersey Times expressed difficulty in believing that high schoolers would be ignorant of the history of lynching in the South. But criminal charges require at least probable cause that a criminal offense was committed, and perhaps prosecutors felt that was lacking in this case.

Even without criminal charges, it is likely the boys will be disciplined in some way by their school. As you may recall, that's what happened when a high-school girls basketball team in Maine infamously posed for a "Nazi salute" photo on Facebook.

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