Florida high school football team is banned from flying Thin Blue Line flag honoring student’s dead officer father after accusations it is racist
- Fletcher High School, located in Neptune Beach, had flown the controversial pro-law enforcement flag during the 2019 season and during a game last week
- The flag had been ran out onto the field in honor of a student’s father, a former Jacksonville Beach police officer who died unexpectedly in August 2019
- Cpl. Andy Lavender, a 29-year veteran with the police force, was not on-duty at the time
- Following the most recent game, students and other people took to online to blast the school for having the flag flown
- Administrators at the school decided to ban the flag from future events
A Florida high school football team has been banned from flying a Thin Blue Line flag during their games after it was branded racist in a fierce online backlash.
Fletcher High School, located in Neptune Beach, had flown the controversial pro-law enforcement flag during 11 games of the 2019 season and during last week’s game against Fleming Island.
But when the Fletcher Senators ran out onto the field with the flag during the recent game, they were met with a slew of comments accusing the school of being ‘racist.’
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Fletcher High School, located in Neptune Beach, had flown the controversial pro-law enforcement flag during the 2019 season and during a game last week
‘Fletcher really out here being openly racist,’ one person said on social media, News4Jax reports.
Another online protester added: ‘Thin blue flag shown at Fletcher High School game, a lot of students aren’t happy.’
School administrators decided to ban the running of the flag.
The flag had been ran out onto the field in honor of a student’s father, Cpl. Andy Lavender, a former Jacksonville Beach police officer who died unexpectedly in August 2019
The flag had been ran out onto the field in honor of a student’s father, a former police officer who died unexpectedly in August 2019. The 29-year veteran was not on-duty at the time.
‘It is all about my son’s love for his dad and his memory,’ said Lorie Lavender, mother to the student, a junior named Caelan.
Caelan is an offensive lineman on the team. His father, Cpl. Andy Lavender, was a Jacksonville Beach police officer.
‘He was one of a kind,’ Lorie Lavender said. ‘And he is very much missed and loved.’
Lavender claimed that the flag had no political or racist message in their eyes.
Fletcher High School Principal Dean Ledford issued a statement explaining that the decision was made because the tribute could be misconstrued by those outside of the school’s community.
‘It will always be my goal to ensure all students at Fletcher High School have the best possible educational experience to gain every opportunity for success beyond our school. A cohesive school culture in which students learn to shape and express their personal views is essential toward the accomplishment of that goal.
Administrators at the school decided to ban the flag from future events
‘Since last year, a young man on our football team has been allowed to memorialize his father by carrying a flag onto the field with the team during the opening ceremonies of each game. The flag, which is known as the Thin Blue Line flag, has different meaning for different people, and rather than representing the young man’s personal feelings, it was being interpreted as a political statement of the team and of the school.
‘In consultation with the coaches, I determined that the act of using this flag in this personal way, while in the context of the football game opening ceremony, could easily be construed as representing a political position of our school and not just the personal feelings of the student and his teammates. Therefore, I have determined that it is no longer appropriate to continue. I am in conversation with the student and his teammates about ways they can appropriately express their personal views.
‘As the principal of Fletcher, I greatly appreciate our School Police, Jacksonville Beach Police, Atlantic Beach Police, Neptune Beach Police and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for their work in protecting our school and our community. As a public school, we must take great care in maintaining an objective position on various political issues.
‘Our action in guiding the student and his teammates to an appropriate way of expressing their personal views should only be interpreted as an action to maintain the school’s role as a venue for constructive dialogue, and not a proponent of any particular point of view.’