A Bay Area high school has decided that t-shirts are a safety concern. Not all t-shirts, just those in support of Eric Garner.
Both the girls and boys basketball teams at Mendocino High School received information banning the shirts emblazoned with what has become the battle cry of protesters against the killings of unarmed black men around the country. The students wore them in support of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man killed by Daniel Pantaleo with an illegal chokehold. His last words were “I can’t breathe.”
If they didn’t comply, they would be disinvited from the competition.
According to TheGrio, the teams started wearing the t-shirts during warm-ups before games with administrators blind to what the shirts stood for. Girls coach, Caedyn Feehan thought it was an inside joke.
“I didn’t even know what it meant. I thought it was a joke about how I had conditioned them so hard,” Feehan said. “None of the administrators knew what it was or that any of them were doing it in advance. This was entirely for their cause that they had strong feelings about.”
Nope. Not a joke, at all.
The boys team was reinstated after all but one student agreed to the conditions while the girls didn’t get enough agreements for a full team.
One player’s father has taken the issue to the American Civil Liberties Union, calling it a constitutional issue of freedom of speech.
“To protect the safety and well-being of all tournament participants it is necessary to ensure that all political statements and or protests are kept away from this tournament,” Rebecca Walker, principal at Fort Bragg stated, who said she was speaking on behalf of the athletic director and the Fort Bragg school superintendent. “We are a small school district that simply does not have the resources to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, students and guests at the tournament should someone get upset and choose to act out.”
Kudos to these kids for taking a stand.