I-Team 8

Center Grove principal apologizes for athlete’s blackface photo

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Popeye Williams, a Westfield High School football player, said Tuesday he’s not received an apology from the Center Grove High School athlete in blackface who was mocking him.

However, Jeffry Henderson, principal at Center Grove High School, offered an apology Tuesday to Williams on behalf of the athlete, whose “disappointing” and “hurtful” incident was caught on social media.

Williams said the viral photo of the Center Grove athlete in blackface with black drawings on his arms obvious was about him. “You could kind of put two and two together.”

The drawings, Williams says, are an imitation of the tattoos he has on his arm.

In a letter sent to Center Grove parents, staff and students, the school principal said, “This incident is disappointing and hurtful and does not represent the sportsmanship or values that our team, school, and community stand for. On behalf of Center Grove High School and our Athletic Program, I apologize for this behavior.”

In the letter, which was shared with I-Team 8 but not posted on the high school’s social media sources, Henderson added that he has spoken with Westfield’s principal, Alicia Denniston, to assure her that Center Grove will “not tolerate racism or harassment of any kind.”

Denniston issued her own statement, Tuesday, saying, “We stand in support of Popeye and the Williams family as they process and face this act of racial discrimination.”

What did Williams think about the Center Grove principal’s apology? The Westfield football player said, “I do think that there should be consequences taken.”

Center Grove says it cannot release disciplinary action for students, but did not explain why.

Williams told I-Team 8 that no matter the punishment, he is taking the high road. “I don’t hold any grudges on anyone. Like I said, I wish him the best.”