Wisconsin Dad Stops Black Superintendent From Shaking Hands With His Daughter, Sparks Racism Debates

A Wisconsin father shook graduation after jumping in front of the Black Superintendent who wanted to shake his daughter’s hand. The incident from Baraboo High School in Wisconsin sparked debates across social media after the video of the unfortunate event went viral. 

The incident

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Baraboo High School graduate’s father pulled the district Superintendent, Rainey Briggs, away from his daughter as she was walking to get her diploma. Briggs is a Black man. The father even shouted to his daughter not to touch Briggs.

Named and shamed

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The father, identified as Matt Eddy, 49, grabbed Superintendent Rainey Briggs by the arm and pushed him aside. At the same time, he shouted at his daughter to stay away from the Superintendent. Briggs told him to let him go. Then, the officers got involved.

Police took the father out

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Two or three off-duty police officers escorted Eddy. He was initially not named to protect the daughter’s identity, but several publications revealed his name and social media profiles. 

The backlash

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Many wondered what prompted the father to interrupt his daughter’s special moment. They accused the father of shaming and disrespecting his daughter, while others accused the man of racism. The board members were also present, but they were not attacked. 

School’s response 

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The district issued a statement saying that the emphasis is on celebrating graduates. The statement added that the district was working with the police while staying focused on the safety of the students and staffers. It said no one should be afraid to fulfill their duty while on the school grounds. 

The behavior is not tolerated

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The district continued by expressing that the father’s actions would not be tolerated. The Baraboo Board of Education echoed the school district’s statement, sharing that threats and intimidation are against the community’s rules. The incident prompted reactions from local lawmakers.

State representative’s response 

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Francesca Hong, a Democrat and state lawmaker, shared on X that Briggs was excellent at his job and expressed student concerns. She added no one should tolerate the racist behavior the father showed toward Briggs. Hong is the first Asian American member of the Wisconsin Legislature.

Same school, different incident

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The school was already in the headlines in 2018. A photo showed students performing the Nazi salute. The then-Superintendent  Lori Mueller said she became aware after the photo started circulating on social media. The district investigated the incident. Briggs took over as Superintendent in 2021. 

Not a salute 

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Peter Gust, who took the photo, said that the group of white boys was waving at the time of the incident. He added that it was innocent, and the boys gave a high five, but the final products turned out differently. However, one student who was in the photo but not participating in the salute had a different recollection.

What happened?

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The boy who spoke up said Gust did not tell children to wave or give high fives. However, the photographer did not encourage the boys to do the salute. The student, Jordan Blue, shared it was their idea regardless of what the photographer told them to do. 

Hate crimes

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Many social media users recalled the 2018 incident and expressed concerns over the way non-white people are being treated in the district. Others wondered if this was an assault. Facebook pages, Baraboo Community Conversations, and Baraboo SD WI Parents’ Rights in Education were flooded with messages.

Troubles in the district 

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The clip has gone viral across all social networks. Days before, news broke that Baraboo residents were looking to replace School Board President Kevin Vodak. Petitioners listed salary increases for two administrators, including Superintendent Rainey Briggs, as one reason to replace Vodak. Watch the video on X.

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