Peyton Robinson said he got the bad news from a school administrator Wednesday morning.
The 18-year-old senior at York Comprehensive High School was told he wasn’t allowed to fly his American flag and POW-MIA flag in the bed of his pickup truck.
“He said, ‘We’re having some issues. Some people were complaining about the flags in your truck,’” Robinson told WBTV-TV. He said the administrator said the flags could “possibly” be offensive, and told Robinson to take them down before coming back to the South Carolina school Thursday.
But apparently, Robinson didn’t have to lift a finger.
He told WBTV that at some point Wednesday, a school official unscrewed the bolts securing the flags to his truck and laid them in the bed “when I wasn’t even there.”
By the end of the school day, officials announced that flags such as Robinson’s are safety concerns. Superintendent Vernon Prosser told WSOC-TV the fear is that they could block the view of other drivers and cause a wreck.
The senior — who has relatives who served in the military — was upset. ”I was pretty mad,” he told WBTV. “I don’t see how it’s a problem. Nobody has ever complained about it before.”
“I’d understand if it was the Confederate flag or something that might offend somebody,” he added. “I wouldn’t do that. But an American flag — that’s our country’s flag. I have every right to do it. I don’t see a safety issue. I mean, I understand it’s a big flag — it’s 4 by 6 — but nobody has ever complained about it being in their way or anything.”
So Robinson hit his Facebook page Wednesday and let everybody know what was happening — and fellow students quickly took up the cause, driving back to school that night with flags flying from their vehicles.
“I’ll keep fighting,” Robinson told WSOC Wednesday night. “I’m not letting it go; I won’t go down without a fight.”
Students also vowed to fly flags Thursday morning at school in solidarity with Robinson — and more than 70 vehicles equipped with waving flags pulled into the school parking lot.
A crowd stood on the roadside and cheered them on, and what appeared to be a group of veterans saluted at the school’s entrance as they rode in.
Here’s a raw clip of Thursday morning’s demonstration:
Principal Christopher Black told WSOC on Thursday he would be asking all of those students to remove their flags. But just a couple of hours after the demonstration, there was a big change of heart.
“Do [sic] to the outstanding display of patriotism through peaceful demonstration, it is apparent to us that many are not happy about this policy,” the school said in a statement. “School officials have reviewed the standing policy regarding flags and have decided that an exception will be made for the American flag, as long as the size of the flag(s) does not create a driving hazard.”
The state Highway Patrol told WSOC the York students’ flags are legal.
Robinson’s dad told WSOC he’s proud of his son and that he encouraged him to keep flying the flag whatever the rules might say, even if it meant leaving school.
Follow Dave Urbanski (@DaveVUrbanski) on Twitter