Football squad from California defies flying pro-cop Thin Blue Line flag before games

Football squad from California defies flying pro-cop Thin Blue Line flag before games

A California high school football team defied a rule on flying a pro-police flag during games after receiving complaints that the symbol is racist.

Despite the clear restriction, students from Saugus High School’s Centurions football team in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County, displayed the flag during their Friday night loss to Golden Valley, 31-13.

The banner is supposed to demonstrate support for police enforcement; however, it was prohibited from being shown on the field earlier this month after some deemed it “uncomfortable and unpleasant.”

The flag is a black-and-white Stars-and-Stripes with a single blue stripe to indicate support for law enforcement.

Earlier in October, the flag was banned after some locals said the flag was racist

Superintendent Mike Kuhlman of the William S. Hart Union High School District prohibited the thin blue line flag indicating police support from being brought onto the field in September.

‘Given that some individuals have expressed concern that they perceive the Thin Blue Line flag to be divisive, it occurred to (the coach) that some players on the team might not be entirely enthusiastic about a symbol that is being used to represent the entire team,’ Kuhlman said, adding that football coach Jason Bornn made the decision to stop flying the flag.

“Due to his commitment to inclusiveness, love, and respect (basically loving people), and the fact that the team never voted as a unit to fly this banner, Coach has decided to discontinue this practice,” Kuhlman stated.

One local homeowner, Duncan Mandel, railed against the display of the flag in a Facebook post before the ban was implemented.

There is no reason for this image to be displayed on cheer blocks or carried into the field by players.

Get loud,’ he said. What message are we delivering to our children if we allow this polarization to continue? Perform some action! Simply put, this is not a First Amendment issue.

In response to the ban, the local NAACP branch stated, in part, that the flag is “a tool exploited by those determined to stir hate, injustice, and exclusion.”

After a mass shooting at the school in November 2019, which resulted in the deaths of two young pupils and the gunman’s own suicide, the flag has taken on a special significance for the Saugus community. Off-duty police officers were among the first to arrive at the site and are credited with saving the lives of injured people.

The shooting’s survivors are now seniors at Saugus.

On November 14, 2019, sixteen-year-old Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow drew a.45-caliber semi-automatic weapon from his bag and opened fire in the school quad, striking five classmates before turning the gun on himself.

16-year-old Gracie Anne Muehlberger and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell were fatally shot. Two 15-year-old and 14-year-old girls and a 14-year-old male were injured.

In 16 seconds, Berhow emptied the whole magazine of his.45 caliber semi-automatic weapon.

Authorities said that if three off-duty police officers who were dropping off their children at the school at the time had not been there, more people would have perished.

As soon as they heard gunfire, they ran into the building and administered first aid to some of the injured.

According to the website of Flags of Valor, a company that offers thin blue line goods, ‘The Thin Blue Line insignia was created to represent all law enforcement personnel in a manner similar to the Red Cross symbol, which represents all medical workers.’

After the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter demonstrations and riots over the summer of 2020, it has become contentious. This resulted in several proposals to defund or even disband police departments, with the volatile topic continuing to roil American politics.

Typically, the flag was carried onto the field by 16-year-old Wyatt Hawk. His mother, Lexi, stated to KHTS, “Saying that we insult other people is absurd. Nobody talked about it. It was not a roundtable conversation; consequently, there is no democracy without a discussion.

Hawk stated that she personally knows law enforcement officials that entered the school on the day of the 2019 shooting.

Jessica Suarez, an additional police supporter, told the station, “I believe it’s very important for the Saugus Football seniors who were on campus on the day of the (Saugus High School) shooting in 2019.” Her husband works in law enforcement, she noted.

Suarez continued, ‘They’re prohibiting it because they consider it to be a symbol of the Blue Lives Matter Movement.

It was appropriated by extremists who used the sign in a negative light… This narrow blue line does not mean much to us.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported that many in the audience wore T-shirts reading, “THE BLUE HAD OUR BACKS, NOW WE HAVE YOURS.”

The newspaper was told by retired police officer Todd Cataldi, whose son plays on the team, that ‘These kids went through a lot as freshmen with the school shooting, and there are several kids on the team whose parents work in law enforcement and are first responders and want to show their support for them.’

A Black Lives Matter supporter who attended the game and tweeted about his experience stated that he was there to oppose “bootlickers.”

Ryan, the demonstrator, originally intended to protest from the bleachers, but changed his mind when he witnessed the groundswell of support.

He wrote, “I felt it would be safer to wait outside and protest at the entrance.”

During the game, Ryan reported receiving harassment from both young and old individuals. Rebecca Hindman, a local congressional candidate, requested a picture at one point.

At the conclusion of the game, a school administrator advised Ryan that it would be safer for him to leave early.

I chose to leave 30 minutes before the end of the game after realizing that having 200+ agitated sports fans pass by me could be detrimental to my health and my vehicle. (Saugus won, hooray!) he exclaimed.

The local chapter of the NAACP issued the following statement in response to the flag ban: ‘When Saugus High School announced that the thin blue line flag will no longer be permitted on the football field, some members of the community reacted with fury.’

The press release stated, ‘However, for many members of the black community, the flag has been and continues to be a tool used by those trying to sow discord, injustice, and exclusion.’

The NAACP stated that the thin blue line flag gained popularity when the Black Lives Matter campaign was established.

The group stated, “The thin blue line flag was popularized in 2014 by Andrew Jacob, a wealthy white college student who found Black Lives Matter protests offensive.” It has been supported by hate groups nationwide.

If you wish to commemorate police personnel, use symbols that are not linked with injustice, bigotry, and division, the statement concluded.

A ski-mask-wearing woman was one of two protestors outside the game. She held up a sign that read, “Nazis, go home!”

The unidentified woman told KHTS, “One of the things that people don’t understand is that police in the United States kill an average of three individuals per day, or approximately 1,100 per year.”

She continued: “We’re the only nation that does that.” Why? We can take a different approach.

Ryan, the same protester who tweeted about his experiences while holding a Black Lives Matter flag, told KHTS, “The thin blue line has existed as a symbol for quite some time.”

He further stated, “However, this flag has only gained notoriety since the Black Lives Matter campaign began.” It was an answer. This flag is a response to the other flag.

Ryan continued, ‘I took this flag out to show solidarity for the students who did not wish to fly the flag before to the game.

I have to imagine, tonight, looking at that stadium… I must assume that the students feel quite alone.

During Friday’s game, scores of fans were seen holding tiny blue line flags and wearing insignia in the stands.

The squad ultimately prevailed 14-6. Still, fan Ron Marome cared more about helping law enforcement.

He told KTLA, ‘It’s not about supporting something while condemning everything else.’ Simply expressing our support for the blue line. That is all. It was that easy. It became something that it should not have become.

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