After the Saugus High School football team drew criticism for taking to the field carrying a ‘thin blue line’ flag this season, the controversial symbol will no longer be part of the pregame tradition, though some fans of the Centurions brought their own flags to Friday night’s game.
Late last month, William S. Hart Union High School District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman sent out a letter addressing the flag, alluding to its history as a symbol for those who support law enforcement.
Kuhlman also noted that some view the flag negatively. For instance, Melina Abdullah, co-founder Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, told Politico it “feels akin to a Confederate flag.”
“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.”
After discussions between the school’s principal and Centurions head coach Jason Bornn, the decision was made to keep with Bornn’s maxim — “just love people” — and discontinue the practice, Kuhlman added.
“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.
Kuhlman emphasized multiple times that the district fully supports law enforcement, especially after the 2019 mass shooting at the school.
“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 members of the school community, however, feel the district made their decision too hasitily by not holding an open discussion.
Lexi Hawk, mother of 16-year-old Wyatt, who usually carried the banner, told radio station KHTS that the controversy went from social media to the school and district without the team even being aware.
“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.
While the flag wasn’t carried by the team Friday night, plenty of fans could be spotted with ‘thin blue line’ flags and clothing in the stands.
Despite the drama off the field, the Centurions defeated Hart 14-6, something some Centurion fans would probably like to focus on instead of the flag debate.
“It’s not about backing something and saying everything else is bad,” said Saugus fan Ron Marome. “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.”