A youth football coach’s racist ramblings on Facebook have created a rift in a posh metro Atlanta community, with angry parents promising to show up and oust Brookwood Football Association leaders in a Tuesday night election showdown.
The coach, Frank Samuelson, who led a team of 10-year-olds in the Brookwood Football Association this fall, created the upheaval when he made a series of posts in October that described south Asians as "Red Dots" and Hispanics as "Beaners," and mocked other ethnic groups and women. The remarks led neighbors in the community to choose sides and accuse the Brookwood board of directors of protecting an insensitive coach.
Typical of Samuelson's rants was this entry, misspellings included: "I was dining in an Asian buffet today [big surpise], and I heard this morning how Asian students are suppodely so much smarter than American kids. My personal observation is that those fishheads still eat with chopsticks. It took Western ingenuity to invent the fork. I'm just saying. ... they a'int that friggin' smart."
While admitting his actions were wrong, Samuelson doesn’t think parents should hold the board responsible for them by ousting the group. He said outsiders didn’t understand the context of his posts or that he has a diverse set of friends.
“Is it in poor taste? Sure. But it was not intended to be printed out and break laws by sticking it on other people’s windshields,” said Samuelson , who has apologized and hired an attorney.
Another of his postings, which Samuelson said represented inside jokes between friends: “How to solve illegal immigration: Arrest the 30+ million illegals that are here first. Have them build a huge brick wall across the border [those guys do great brick work], and make them build it from the Mexican side of the border. Mount 50 calibre machine guns across the top and shoot anyone trying to climb over."
The Brookwood Football Association is one in a network of youth sports organizations across metro Atlanta that provide recreation for thousands of kids at county parks. The associations feed high school sports teams by nurturing young talent. The Brookwood Football Association has brought in $1.14 million in gross receipts since 2005, tax records show.
Samuelson served as a board vice president for the diverse organization, whose participants are 50 percent minority. African-American, Hispanic, Asian and white parents offended by the coach's comments, which they copied and distributed, are the ones pushing for change on the board. They said the comments aren’t representative of the new face of Brookwood: upper middle class, politically correct and racially accepting.
“It is inappropriate for a coach who is around all of these children in a non-profit organization to have posts up like that referring to women and minorities in derogatory terms,” said Eric Montgomery, a black parent of a Brookwood football player new to the association.
Those offended with the postings have said they will come to the election at Brookwood High School at 7 pm. with a new slate of diverse candidates to represent their interests in the power structure of the organization. They are urging neighors to vote. Contrary to Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation rules, however, current bylaws of the group prevent them from nominating candidates on election day. Those rules are likely to be updated by an amendment that has been pushed by the parents and recommended by county park officials.
Roxanna Godden, whose son once played for Samuelson, said if the embattled coach is allowed to represent the board or work with children, her son will play elsewhere.
“I drive a good ways just so my son can play at the park because I wanted him to play with the best -- Brookwood is known for baseball and football,” Godden said. “My son is mixed [racially]. If Frank is at the park next year, I don’t think, my son will be there.”
Brookwood Football Association's election night also will draw staunch supporters of Samuelson, several of whom have said he has been punished enough by public opinion.
Tricia Freeman, another player's parent, said the incident has been blown out of proportion and is being used by a group of newcomers and disgruntled parents looking to push their own agenda.
“What that gentleman posted on Facebook was between him and his friends," Freeman said. "I actually don’t think he should have stepped down from the board. I just think there is a group of people using the race card to get people worked up.”
The Brookwood neighborhood, has prided itself in its successful football programs, which have served as feeder teams for other levels. Brookwood High School has won state championships. Former players include two who have advanced to the NFL, Rennie Curran of the Tennessee Titans and the retired Jason Elam, formerly of the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons
As the neighborhood’s profile grew so did its population and home prices. In 2005, about 68 percent of the students attending Brookwood schools were white. Now only 48 percent are white. About 32 percent of students are black or Hispanic.
Board members say they are working hard to keep the diverse youth football association thriving.
“I love Brookwood, it’s a great organization,” said Nancy Hopkins, an executive board member. “There are a lot of people who are trying to do good,”
Still, some parents say others on the board have not been as responsive to their requests for change and swift punishment for Samuelson.
“They have called the police on us, locked us out of the building when we tried to meet and attacked our parents in the stands at playoffs,” said Blake Fleming, a white youth football assistant coach who launched the movement of concerned parents. “We pay a premium to live in this neighborhood.”
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