Cornerback Brady Williams and linebacker Jarad Bentley of Little Miami High School wanted to send a meaningful message across, but are now facing the consequences.
Before the Little Miami High School football game took on Friday, September 11, the two boys carried “thin blue line” and “thin red flag” on field.
Williams, who is reportedly a policeman’s son, told a local news reporter that he was doing it to honor the cops, who lost their lives while saving other people 19 years ago, during the 9/11 tragedy. He carried the “thin blue line” flag.
“Were you trying to make some kind of a political statement here?” asked the reporter.
“No,” he quickly answered. “Not at all. I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago.”
Bentley, who carried the “thin red line” flag, is a firefighter’s son.
“I was all for it,” he said. “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.”
The boys admitted that they asked the school’s permission prior to the game, but was denied and were told to face the consequences if they disregard the order.
“Listen,” said Williams. “I don’t care what my consequences are. As long as my message gets across, I’ll be happy,” he stated.
According to the news, both were given an indefinite suspension by the school’s athletic director on Monday.
“We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it,” said Gregory Power, the athletic director whom the journalist had spoken to.
He said that he believed those flags are symbols of a political view, which could result in an unpleasant situation among families due to differences in political outlook.
He explained, “We did not want to place ourselves in a circumstance where another family might want a different flag to come out of the tunnel, one that may be many other families may not agree with from a political perspective.”
The flags have been associated with Blue Lives Matter, a pro-police movement. Currently, law enforcers are being condemned and criticized, following the death of George Floyd in May, and other Black Americans in the hands of the cops. As a result, Black Lives Matter movement has surprisingly grown in popularity all over the world. In the United States, BLM supporters are allegedly responsible for the many violent and non-violent protests and riots nationwide.
Power also said that after Williams’ mother posted the incident on Facebook, he has been receiving hate emails and voice mails from people who disagree with his point of view.
The video, showing the scene where the two boys waved the flags, has also been shared on Twitter.
On 9/11 anniversary, Little Miami H.S. football players carried Thin Blue Line and Thin Red Line flags on field to honor fallen NYPD cops and NYFD firefighters who died on that tragic day.
— The Hill Report (@StandWithAZ) September 15, 2020
After the event attracted the media’s attention, the school district sent a message to Fox19 NOW that reads:
“Little Miami Local Schools is saddened to see this story take such a negative turn. 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.
“The Patriot Night program to memorialize the victims of 9/11 was already part of our pre-game ceremonies on Friday and the American flag is the first thing through the tunnel every Friday night. Little Miami enjoys an outstanding relationship with local first police and fire agencies and a Little Miami school resource officer is also a high school football coach.
“Little Miami always has – and always will – support our first responders, our veterans, and all who sacrifice to maintain our freedoms.”
Up to this time, it is uncertain until when is the suspension for the two senior high schoolers.
Meanwhile, a Facebook page called “We stand with Brady and Jarad” was created to support the pair. According to the creators, they are planning to meet at a nearby location downtown with their flags flying on September 25 to show support for the young gentlemen.
“If they are not allowed to honor the country’s heroes, we will do it for them. We will pull into the school in a large group before the game starts and proudly show our support,” the post said.
Update: According to latest reports, the school reinstated its initial decision.
“The results show that there were no political motivations behind this display of support for first responders on 9/11, but there were stances of insubordination,” Little Miami school board president Bobbie Grice said. “Moving forward, Little Miami is returning the players to active status and this matter will be addressed as an Athletic Department Code of Conduct issue, with any potential consequences to be handled by coaching staff,” she confirmed.