A high school football team in Santa Clarita, California, got in trouble for carrying a "Thin Blue Line" flag supporting police onto the field before games.
The National Desk reports that officials with the William S. Hart Union High School District have instructed the Saugus High School football team to end their tradition of running onto the field with the Blue Lives Matter flag, calling it "divisive."
"The controversy has generated strong feelings on all sides of this issue," Superintendent Mike Kuhlman wrote in a letter to community members Wednesday. "Despite emails for immediate action, and threats of consequences if certain steps weren't taken within a specific timeline, we determined to take our time to understand the issue accurately and to respond thoughtfully."
Kuhlman said the district began an investigation and spoke with the head coach after some people complained that the flag — a black and white American flag with a horizontal blue stripe — made them feel "uncomfortable and unwelcome." Football coach Jason Bornn reportedly acknowledged that some players on the team "might not be entirely enthusiastic about a symbol that is being used to represent the entire team," Kuhlman wrote.
"In deference to his commitment to inclusivity, kindness and respect (just loving people), and because the team never voted as a unit to carry this banner, Coach Bornn decided to discontinue this practice," the superintendent announced.
Kuhlman emphasized that the district still supports law enforcement. "The degree of enthusiasm behind our District’s backing of law enforcement is not measured by the acceptance or rejection of any one particular symbol," he wrote.
Parents and students criticized the decision.
"For some people to say the flag is divisive, shows their ignorance because these are our heroes that come in while everybody runs away," Christine Ruiz told Los Angeles station KTTV.
"I think people should keep an open mind because at the end of the day, when you call 9-1-1, who’s going to come and help you?" parent Priscilla Garcia said.
Other parents said the decision was upsetting because off-duty police officers were the first to respond when a shooter attacked Saugus High School in 2019, shooting five of his classmates and killing two.
"One of the first responders was a parent who dropped off a kid (at the time) and he literally saved some lives. The fact that the school is not honoring that is mind-blowing and disgusting," said Brandy Roggentien, whose daughter attends the high school.
But others felt the school was doing the right thing.
"I think it should be away from the game because it’ll cause fights and stuff, and people will get mad about that; just enjoy the game you don’t have to worry about it," said student Daniel Alexander.
D’Ante Von Wright told KKTV that the "Thin Blue Line" flag was actually disrespectful to some servicemen.
"The American flag has colors for a reason. Red, white and blue, so when you add a blue line to one of the white stripes, it obviously changes the meaning of that flag," he said. "It’s no longer the Stars and Stripes, it’s whatever they want it to be. So it’s a false flag. Flying it during a school event or any event is disrespectful to the country and the servicemen and women that came before."