Garden City, KS – A patriotic fan who confronted a community college basketball player after he walked out on the court during the National Anthem and began shooting baskets is facing backlash for his actions.
Jim Howard, of Garden City, is a 32-year volunteer with the booster club, which supports the Garden City Broncbusters basketball team, according to conservative columnist and commentator Todd Starnes.
He has kept scorebooks, helped with fundraisers, assisted with football, and even provided a place for players to have a Thanksgiving meal.
On November 1, Howard was watching the season-opener game from the stands, and stood for the National Anthem when the announcer asked everyone to stand, like he’s always done, and like the crowd did.
As he stood, Howard saw one player seated on a bench at courtside, a 19-year-old red-shirt student named Rasool Samir.
Team policy states that the entire basketball team is supposed to stay inside the locker room until after the National Anthem is over. It was unusual to see Samir outside of the locker room at that time.
As the crowd continued singing the Star-Spangled Banner, Samir got up, grabbed a ball, walked onto the court, and began shooting baskets.
Howard said that he was tired of the national anthem being disrespected.
It was an ‘in your face slam’.”
At the conclusion of the song, he got up, walked onto the court, and confronted Samir. Howard told Samir that he should respect the flag, and if he wasn’t going to respect the flag, then he should get off the court and out of the gym.
“You should respect the flag. If you don’t respect the flag, just stay seated. Don’t make a big scene. At least respect the people that paid for your scholarship to get you on this campus – like myself and everyone else in that gym.”
A police officer stepped in, and separated Howard and Samir, according to The Garden City Telegram.
Howard was told to go back to his seat by the officer, who escorted Samir off the court. A number of fans gave Howard a standing ovation, and some walked over to shake his hand.
Two days later, Samir was no longer enrolled at Garden City Community College, a decision GCCC’s Director of Athletics John Green said was Samir’s. Green said that Samir asked to be released from his scholarship, and the college and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Brady Trenkle agreed.
Samir told The Garden City Telegram that he was told to leave the college by Trenkle.
Samir said that he wasn’t protesting during the national anthem, as many have done, but that he has never stood for it, and didn’t expect such a negative reaction.
The ACLU sent a letter to GCCC asking for clarification as to why Samir is no longer at the community college. After the ACLU letter was sent, Samir filed a formal complaint with the ACLU over what he said were a violation of his first amendment rights.
In response, GCCC’s attorney Randy Grisell disputed the ACLU’s assertion that Samir’s rights were violated.
The GCCC Police Department is investigating the incident, and said that a prosecutor would decide if Howard should be charged with battery, assault, or disorderly conduct.
Since the incident, Howard has been voted out of his position as a Broncbuster Athletic Association board member for his part in the confrontation.