Some Ohio highschool football players were suspended following a public display of support for police officers and firefighters.
The incident took place on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, where two Little Miami High School football players ran on the field carrying Thin Red Line and Thin Blue Line flags.
Brady Williams, one of the two boys who were suspended, said that he was not trying to make a poltiical statement, and was instead "honouring the people that lost their lives 19 years ago."
Another player, Jarad Bentley, said he wanted to honour his father who is a firefighter. "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 students had asked the school if they could go forward with the display, to which the school said no.
"I don't care what my consequences are, so long as my message gets across, I'll be happy," said Williams.
School superintendent Gregory Power said that he declined the request because he did not want to set a "precedent."
“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 [one that] many other families may not agree with from a political perspective,” Power explained to Local 12.
“Little Miami is saddened to see this story take such a negative turn. While we understand these students’ desire (to) show their support of first responders, they did not obtain permission from district officials. Administrators must act when students break the rules,” the school later said in a statement to Fox 19.
“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,” the school said.
"Little Miami always has—and always will—support our first responders, our veterans, and all who sacrifice to maintain our freedoms."
A petition to reverse the school's decision has reached nearly 18,000 signatures at the time of publication.