Wisconsin dad tells cops why he pushed superintendent off stage so he couldn’t shake daughter’s hand

The same high school made headlines in 2018 when a group of students performed the Nazi salute in a photo

Katie Hawkinson
Friday 07 June 2024 17:02
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Shocking moment father of high school graduate stops black Superintendent from shaking her hand

A new police report details a white father’s explanation to cops for why he shoved a Black school superintendent off a Wisconsin graduation stage to stop him from shaking his graduating daughter’s hand.

The scandal began on May 31, when Matthew Eddy walked onto the stage at Baraboo High School’s graduation as his daughter was shaking hands with school officials. As she approached Superintendent Rainey Briggs, who is Black, the father jumped on stage, grabbed the superintendent by his arm, and dragged him away from his daughter, viral video of the incident shows.

“He put both of his hands on me to push me out of the way stating, ‘You are not going to touch my (expletive) daughter,’” Briggs told police . “At that time I created space and stated ‘get your hands off me.’”

Now, Eddy has been charged with disorderly conduct and Briggs has filed a restraining order against the man.

The police report, obtained by local outlet WMTV 5 News, says Eddy told officers he “had past issues with Rainey and dislikes him.” Eddy told police he “wanted to prevent Rainey from having the satisfaction of shaking” his daughter’s hand, “so he went onto the stage to prevent that from happening.”

An unnamed father of a graduate pictured shoving Superintendent Rainey Briggs (far left) off the stage. In 2018, the same high school made national news after a photo emerged of several students performing the Nazi salute
An unnamed father of a graduate pictured shoving Superintendent Rainey Briggs (far left) off the stage. In 2018, the same high school made national news after a photo emerged of several students performing the Nazi salute (TV43 Baraboo)

Officers said the push was “pre-planned” and that the father was sorry for the incident — but only because of the impact it had on his graduating daughter.

“We would like to emphasize that the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community members is a top priority,” Baraboo School District spokesperson Hailey Wagner said in a statement regarding the incident.

Meanwhile, the Baraboo School Board condemned it.

“No employee of the School District of Baraboo should fear for their physical safety when fulfilling their job duties or at any other time,” the school board stated. “That this adult felt emboldened to behave in this way in front of hundreds of students and other adults should deeply trouble us all; this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

The police report does not include evidence the incident was racially motivated. But David Hart, president of Blacks for Political and Social Action of Dane County, told WMTV 5 he is concerned about how Briggs was treated.

“After Dr. Briggs was pushed out of the way and prevented from doing his job, it does not appear that anyone checked on Dr. Briggs’ welfare, and he was forced to continue on amid this trauma,” Hart told the outlet. “While this incident could certainly have race neutral explanations, the treatment of Dr. Briggs looks all too familiar to us.”

Community members shared similar concerns.

“This is absolutely wild that this isn’t already being called out for the outright racism that it is,” one user commented on Facebook earlier this week. “I know there are criticisms Dr. Briggs, some of which may be valid, but nothing that would remotely justify anything like this. It’s a handshake. What century are we in?”

Baraboo High School made national news in 2018 when a photo emerged depicting several current and former students doing the Nazi salute.

A group of current and former Baraboo High School students pictured performing the Nazi salute
A group of current and former Baraboo High School students pictured performing the Nazi salute (Twitter)

One boy in the front row can also be seen forming his index finger and thumb into an “OK” sign, a symbol co-opted by followers of far-right and white supremacist movements. The image was taken ahead of their junior prom and was not affiliated with the school or school district.

However, the school district ultimately refused to take disciplinary action against the students, citing their first amendment rights.

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