A Hampshire College student is facing charges after allegedly assaulting a visiting team’s basketball player over her “culturally appropriated” hair braids.
The 20-year-old Hispanic student, Carmen Figueroa, claimed on Friday in District Court that she’s not guilty of charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.
The charges stem from an incident at Hampshire College’s Robert Crown Center on January 27. Figueroa, who was attending the game, allegedly came up to the Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team and insisted that they remove braids from their hair, saying it’s “cultural appropriation.” The ethnicity/race of the basketball players Figueroa allegedly confronted is unclear.
After the team members dismissed her demands, she allegedly started a fight with one of them. Another Hampshire College student, who also participated in the incident, pulled the hair of one of the players and caused her to fall down, local news reports said.
According to court documents, Figueroa allegedly stepped on the fallen player and injured her. The documents also claim that one Central Maine Community College player tried to protect her teammate, but Figueroa “grabbed her by the head and threw her to the ground,” causing her to suffer scratches.
The two coaches helped break up the fight, while Figueroa “screamed swears and racial slurs” towards the Maine basketball team and tried to punch female players, the charges allege.
Hampshire, a small private liberal arts college in Massachusetts, didn’t comment on the incident, only confirming the accused student’s enrollment at the school.
“Because it’s an active, ongoing District Court proceeding, the college has no comment at this time,” said a university spokesperson.