Cody Alicea, 13, likes to fly a small American flag on his bike in honor of veterans such as his grandfather, Robert. He’s been doing it for two months. But now, the school he attends has ordered him to remove the flag citing “racial tensions.”
“In this country we’re supposed to be free,” said Cody, who attends Denair Middle School near Sacramento, CA. “And I should be able to wave my flag wherever I want to. And they’re telling me I can’t.”
Free or not, officials say flag flying has become too controversial at the school. Denair Unified School District Superintendent Edward Parraz said that while Cody does have a First Amendment right, “with that comes a responsibility.”
That “responsibility” apparently means being more considerate to other cultures.
“Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they’ll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don’t really want,” Parraz said. “We want them to appreciate the cultures.”
He explained that some Hispanic students got out of hand with their own flag flying on Cinco de Mayo.
In response, Cody now hides his flag during the day: he takes it off his bike, folds it up, and keeps it in his backpack.
“He’s got that flag on his bike because he’s proud of where he comes from,” Cody’s father Robert Kisner told KCRA-TV.
Adding to the irony: the school flies an American flag outside the building.
The school has now responded. It says the boy was forced to remove the flag out of safety concerns resulting from threats made against him, but will now allow him to resume his flag flying. Read our follow-up report.