Santa Clarita, CA – There was a protest in the stands at the Saugus High School football game on Friday night after school officials banned players from carrying a Thin Blue Line flag onto the field at the start of the game.
The controversy erupted after somebody who doesn’t live in the area and doesn’t have a child at Saugus High School complained about the Thin Blue Line flag being among the standards that the team ran onto the field carrying at the start of the games this season, KTLA reported.
The Thin Blue Line flag had been included in the tradition to honor the law enforcement officers who bravely rushed into Saugus High School to try to stop an active shooter in November of 2019.
But after someone complained they were offended by the flag meant to honor heroes, William S. Hart Union High School District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman sent out a letter in late September that said the football team would put an end to the practice, KTLA reported.
“While many embrace the symbol as simply a celebration of law enforcement, others have shared their feeling that the symbol has sometimes been co-opted by intolerant individuals with an agenda to divide and exclude,” Kuhlman wrote. “I’ve personally spoken with some individuals who shared their feeling that the symbol makes them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.”
The superintendent said he’d discussed with the head coach of the football team and they’d decided to ban the flag honoring law enforcement from the tradition because some people were offended, KTLA reported.
“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 decided to discontinue this practice,” Kuhlman said.
He said that his decision had nothing to do with his support for law enforcement, KTLA reported.
“It is important to support law enforcement. Those of us with first-hand memories of November 2019 will never forget their heroic response and can be nothing but thankful for their selfless acts of service,” the superintendent said.
Some parents and students were furious about the decision to ban the Thin Blue Line flag at a school where police had been so important to the student body, so they launched a protest in the stands by waving Thin Blue Line flags and wearing clothes with the flag displayed, KTLA reported.
Lexi Hawk, the mother of 16-year-old football player Wyatt Hawk, said that both her parents are retired Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers and her son usually carried the Thin Blue Line banner onto the field, KTLA reported.
Hawk said that controversy erupted from opinions of people outside the school and that Saugus High School parents and players were not consulted before a decision to ban the flag was made.
“Saying that we’re disrespecting other people is ridiculous… Nobody discussed it. It was not a roundtable discussion, therefore without a discussion, there is no democracy,” Hawk told KTLA.
Other fans expressed similar opinions about how the complaints had been handled.
“It’s not about backing something and saying everything else is bad,” Saugus football fan Ron Marome said. “It’s just about saying hey, we support the Blue Line. That’s it. It was that simple. It turned into something it shouldn’t have turned into.”
Three off-duty law enforcement officers were the first on the scene of the active shooter at Saugus High School on Nov. 14, 2019 because they were already there dropping their children off at school, NBC News reported.
A 16-year-old student shot five classmates – killing two – before turning his gun on himself.