Man punches Connecticut school board member in dispute over sports name change

GLASTONBURY, Connecticut — A dispute over a high school changing its sports-team name from Tomahawks to Guardians turned violent when a man punched a member of the school board, reports say.

The Hartford Courant reports police are now investigating the incident, which was captured on video and occurred during a recess of a Glastonbury Public Schools board meeting at Glastonbury High School on Tuesday.

The video shows board member Ray McFall, 57, having a heated discussion with a 53-year-old man who was attending the meeting. When the man puts his face just inches from McFall’s face, McFall pushes the man away. The man then responds by punching McFall in the face, the video shows.

McFall is knocked to the ground but quickly gets up and doesn’t appear to be seriously injured. Other people in the crowd then get between the two men. The meeting was then quickly adjourned with no vote on the issue. No arrests were made.

“Honestly, at the end of the day, it’s just sad that something like that had to take place,” said Glastonbury Town Councilman John Cavanna, who was at the meeting, according to The Daily Beast. “To see it get to the point where folks are physically going after each other is just sad. We’re never going to get anything accomplished if we don’t work together.”

The dispute comes during a push in the community to have the school district restore the team name to the Tomahawks, which was retired in 2020, according to NBC Connecticut. A petition had been circulated calling for a return to Tomahawks, reports say.

“The Board of Education welcomes public comment and appreciates that there will always be passionate testimony when controversial issues are considered,” Glastonbury Superintendent Alan Bookman said in a statement, according to WFSB Channel 3. “But it is critical that we listen to each other with respect and follow meeting rules so that everyone can be heard.”