Two high school students in Morrow, Ohio have been indefinitely suspended from their football team after running through the field with pro-police and pro-firefighter flags to honor the first responders who put their lives in jeopardy and lost their lives during the September 11 terrorist attacks.
In video of the stunt, several players, wearing full uniforms, are seen sprinting onto the field carrying flags. One appears to be a thin blue line flag, expressing support for the police, while a second appears to be a thin red line, supporting firefighters. A third player is simply waving an American flag.
The two students carrying the pro-police and pro-firefighter flags were both indefinitely suspended from their teams as a result, with local media calling their flag-waving an act of “civil disobedience” that the school had previously warned them against.
Local television reporter David Winter wrote, “Two Little Miami football players pay the price for civil disobedience. They were told not to carry onto the field thin blue line and thin red line flags at their 9/11 game.
Winter continued, “They did anyway. The school has now suspended them from the team indefinitely.”
Two Little Miami football players pay the price for civil disobedience. They were told not to carry onto the field thin blue line and thin red line flags at their 9/11 game. They did anyway. The school has now suspended them from the team indefinitely. #ThinBlueLine #ThinRedLine pic.twitter.com/19y9GAvaxr
— David Winter (@DavidWinterTV) September 14, 2020
The players, however, told local media that the act of solidarity with police and firefighters was planned because the students are the sons of a police officer and firefighter.
LaCorte News reported:
I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago,” said Williams, noting the flags were not a political statement. “Listen, don’t care what my consequences are. Ss long as my message gets across, I’ll be happy.”
“I was all for it. Because my dad is a firefighter, and if it had been him killed on 9/11, I would have wanted someone to do it for him,” Bentley said.
However, the school superintendent stood by the decision to permanently remove the players from the team, saying that the district “can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it.”
The school itself also seemed nonplussed by the suspension or the national news coverage, releasing a statement that remarks, “While we understand these students’ desire show their support of our first responders, they did not obtain permission from district officials. Administrators must act when students break the rules.”
Last year, a Missouri high school allowed students to pass out LGBTQ pride flags. A group of students later went viral after distributing Confederate battle flags in response.