HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — The Henry County Board of Education is issuing an apology after ribbons were distributed showing the opposing team's mascot with an apparent noose around its neck.
According to the district, the ribbons were handed out ahead of a football scrimmage between Locust Grove High School and the opposing team. They read "Wildcats, hang the Warhawks," along with a drawing of an bird with a rope around its neck.
A viewer shared the photo of the ribbon with 11Alive, along with the statement:
"Locust Grove High School gave this to their students for beating Henry County High/ Mcdonough high in some sport/competition . LG is majority white and HCHS/ Mcdonough High is majority black. Look what’s around the hawk neck."
In a statement on Facebook, the school board said they were notified of the ribbons ahead of the scrimmage. It condemned them, calling the messaging "unintentional while also being highly inappropriate and most definitely unacceptable."
"We were made aware of a highly inappropriate message that was produced on a Locust Grove ribbon for their upcoming football scrimmage. School administrators were not aware nor ever approved the ribbon purchase. However, once alerted to the matter, the school took immediate corrective action to collect the limited number of ribbons that were distributed. Additionally, both schools have spoken and an apology has been shared between school administrators and athletic officials. We do not tolerate these types of inappropriate messages. A further investigation into the matter is underway," the school board said in a statement.
Locust Grove's principal Toney Townsend also issued an additional statement, saying they were "extremely sorry" for the ribbons and their "highly inappropriate" message.
"At no point is this type of message ever condoned," his statement reads. "At the end of the day, what happened is a strong reminder of the power of words, and that is why we want to publicly express our sincerest apologies for the unacceptable error in this ribbon and message being chosen. We have reached out to our opponent’s administrators and athletic officials to express our apologies, too.
"Our apologies also extend to the entire Henry County community. We have addressed the matter swiftly and appropriately with our school employees, and we are currently working to enact measures to keep this from ever happening again.