Glastonbury councilman speaks out following physical altercation during board of ed meeting

Hartford

GLASTONBURY, Conn. (WTNH) – At least one Glastonbury councilman is speaking out after a fight broke out during a board of education meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting was to address the future of the high school’s mascot when a fight broke out, bringing the meeting to an abrupt end.

The public comment went well during the special hearing and then the meeting adjourned for the board to discuss. As they were coming back out to reopen the meeting, a board member and an audience member got into an aggressive back and forth, and a punch was thrown. The board member was hit.

News 8 spoke to Glastonbury Superintendent Alan Bookman about the incident.

Bookman said the police had to be called after a very emotional meeting. News 8 reached out to the police department. The incident is still under investigation and no arrests have been made yet.

WATCH: Fight breaks out at Glastonbury BOE meeting

A little over a year ago, the school board voted 7 to 1 to remove the Tomahawk logo and name from Glastonbury High School. But a petition circulated by people in the community has forced the BOE to reexamine the decision.

Hundreds signed the petition claiming they “were not afforded the opportunity to provide meaningful input in-person” on the mascot name throughout the pandemic, and that they “see the Tomohawk as a wonderful symbol to respectfully educate students and residents and respectfully celebrate Native American heritage.”

Right now the students are called the Glastonbury Guardians, a name that was voted on by the students. Bookman said it did not cost much to switch the Tomahawk logo over to the new one, which was designed by students as well.

Like parents, athletes have different opinions about what they wear on their jerseys.

“It’s kind of almost honoring the locals that used to live here and I don’t know if anyone else is complaining,” said sophomore Daniel Gorenbeyn. “I’ve heard from a lot of people and no one was really complaining about it.”

“I don’t really think it’s our place to decide the native culture and if we should have the Tomahawk as our logo or not,” said sophomore Jack Watson.

News 8 spoke to parents waiting to pick up their kids from swim practice at the school Wednesday. A lot of them said they did not want to go on camera because they have really strong feelings one way or the other and because it is so emotional; they said they don’t want to get caught up in it.

“For some people, it is,” Bookman said. “I have been in the school district for 38 years and so I know the name Tomahawk, but the comment they made was if it’s offensive to any group of people, then there is no reason to keep it.”

No decision on whether to bring back the Tomahawk logo was made Tuesday night as the meeting was shut down following the incident.

John Cavanna, a recently elected town council member, stepped in to break up the fight. He said emotions run deep over the logo and the controversy surrounding it, adding that the way it was removed from the school during the pandemic upset a lot of people.

“I was extremely concerned that it was going to get crazier than that,” he explained. “And I didn’t want that to happen, especially with the feel in the room I didn’t want it to continue. I wanted it to separate and let folks start calming down.”

Reacting to the violence at the meeting, Cavanna said, “More sadness than anything. This town is better than that.”

He believes the only way to move forward is with a townwide referendum.

“Bring it to a public vote and let the town folks come out and vote for their opinion, vote with their heart, vote with their mind and conscience based on all the facts, and move forward from that. Put it behind us,” Cavanna said.

News 8 reached out to the man who allegedly threw the punch. His family came to the door and said he was not available for comment.

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