Bob Karaszewski

Official Resigns Following Racist Hockey Incident in Amherst

"To me, they were sweeping it under the rug."

March 18, 2019 - 4:59 pm

AMHERST (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - David Braunstein, who had served as the West District President of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association, has resigned his role after nearly two decades.

The news comes after video surfaced of a January incident where Cheektowaga players were caught on camera making monkey noises and taunting Roshaun Brown-Hall, a black player on Amherst. Roshaun's father, Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, explained what happened in the days and weeks following the initial incident all the way to Braunstein's resignation.

The actual game took place on January 20, and Dr. Brown-Hall said the game started to get a little chippy because Amherst was beating Cheektowaga 6-1. Roshaun and his teammates began to hear noises from the Cheektowaga bench, and they said some of the players started using derogatory words toward Roshaun - specifically the word "monkey." Dr. Brown-Hall says his son and teammates reported that to the referees, but nothing was done.

During the game, a parent was recording video, as he did for every game, and it wasn't until a couple days later, when that parent sent a copy of the video to the coach of Amherst, that everyone could see and hear what exactly took place. Once the video was seen, the Amherst coach sent the video to the president of Amherst Hockey.

On the evening ofSunday, February 3, the Amherst coach sent an email to the team, explaining that there would be a mandatory team meeting the following day, and parents were also encouraged to attend. At the meeting, the president of Amherst Hockey watched the tape and discussed the incident with players, because it was reported to him that the referees didn't hear anything.

The Amherst Hockey president then sent the report to Braunstein, and Dr. Brown-Hall wrote a letter that questioned where the investigation was heading. However, several weeks passed, and there was no update on the investigation, so Dr. Brown-Hall sent an email prior to the championship weekend, where the two teams were scheduled to meet each other again.

On March 14, two days before the semifinal, Braunstein sent an email saying that the investigation had not been completed and that a decision would not be made prior to the game. Dr. Brown-Hall then sent a message back to Braunstein, saying that inaction was unnacceptable.

"That's the reason I contacted the media, because I was very angry and upset that they would be dragging their feet on something, to me, that was so clear on the video," said Dr. Brown-Hall. "It's different if there wasn't video because it becomes a he said/she said, and I understand how that goes. But when there's video and you work so hard to get a meeting with the players on February 4 so that the proper information could be collected and sent to the west district president, it's kind of outrageous to think that a decision can't be reached in that amount of time."

Now, two players and an assistant coach from Cheektowaga have been suspended, and the MOHL 18-U playoffs were canceled this past weekend.

Dr. Brown-Hall says it's especially frustrating that he had to assume the level of responsibility into the investigation that he did.

"To me, they were sweeping it under the rug, trying to wait until these young men graduated, and they wouldn't be able to play anymore in this division because after these finals and the championship, the games would be over. What I'm pleased about is that action was taken, so that when this happens again in the future to a young man of color, they know that if they report it, some sort of action will be taken."

He was also upset that the adults in charge of the situation didn't really act like it in this case.

"What we tell kids every day, all day, being an educator, and what we tell my kids at home is that if something happens that makes you uncomfortable or something happens that is wrong, make sure you tell an adult," he said. "My son went to the refs first, then the coach followed the train of command, and the adults didn't do anything in the proper amount of time."

Cheektowaga councilman Brian Pilarksi released the following statement:

We reached out to Braunstein for comment, but he declined, other than saying he made mistakes and has since apologized to Dr. Brown-Hall on how he handled the case.

Hear full audio from Dr. Brown-Hall below:

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