ENGLEWOOD — Crushers Club, an Englewood nonprofit awarded $200,000 from Jay Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL as part of their “Inspire Change” social justice initiative, is under fire after controversial tweets from the group’s founder surfaced on social media.
The organization, which teaches kids discipline and respect through boxing, was one of two local groups recognized by the NFL and Roc Nation Thursday. Lawndale-based Better Boys Foundation also received a $200,000 grant.
After the grants were announced, old social media posts showing Crushers Club founder Sally Hazelgrove cutting off a young man’s dreadlocks were highlighted by an anonymous Twitter account called Resist Programming. The account went on to highlight other troubling tweets from the group’s founder.
“And another Crusher let me cut his dreads off! It’s symbolic of change and their desire for a better life,” the Crushers tweet read. It was accompanied by a photo of Hazelgrove cutting the boxer’s hair.
Several national media outlets — including TMZ and The Fader — picked up on the story, and flagged other tweets, including an “All Lives Matter” post. Critics questioned why the group was getting NFL grant money.
As of noon Friday, most of the controversial tweets — including several pro-Trump posts — had been deleted from the account. Some also took issue with Hazelgrove’s pro-police stance, and saying they found Jay Z’s support of her organization concerning.
Hazelgrove released a statement to The Fader Thursday night, disputing the claim that she has an issue with dreadlocks and saying that all hairstyles are welcome at Crushers Club. She said the young man in the tweet named Kobe wanted his hair cut. Crushers later posted a video of the man backing that up, saying he wanted the cut three years ago.
“That’s something I wanted to do because I was tired of it,” he said in the short video. “Tired of gangbanging, tired of messing up. Now, I’m a changed young man.”
Still, the optics were troubling to some, like R.A.G.E Englewood Founder Aysha Butler.
“I’m not knocking her work or her intent but you have to employ some cultural sensitivity when engaging our community,” said Butler, who has been following the controversy since it began.
“It’s a matter of listening to people when they tell you that you’ve messed up, and doing better, not pushing back. Optics matter,” she added.
Hazelgrove could not be reached for comment.
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