A Florida high school has reportedly prohibited their football team from waving pro-police flags during pre-game ceremonies after critics said the display is racist.
Players on the Fletcher High School football team had been running onto the field with the “thin blue line” flag since last year to honor one of the player’s late father, a former cop who died suddenly in August 2019 after 29 years on the job, News4Jax reported.
The school in the city of Neptune Beach had allowed the team to use the flag for 12 games, dating back to last year, but following online criticism, the principal nixed the practice over political concerns.
One social media comment after a game last week read, “Fletcher really out here being openly racist,” the report said.
Another person wrote that “a lot of students aren’t happy” about the act.
Lorie Lavender, the mother of the junior offensive lineman who started the tradition, told the station the pre-game flag-waving is not political or racist.
“It is all about my son’s love for his dad and his memory,” Lavender said.
The school’s principal, Dean Ledford, felt the meaning of the ritual could be misconstrued by outsiders.
“In consultation with the coaches, I determined that the act of using this flag in this personal way, while in the context of the football game opening ceremony, could easily be construed as representing a political position of our school and not just the personal feelings of the student and his teammates,” he said in a statement.
Ledford said he’s working with the team on alternative ways for them to express their personal views.