18-year-old senior Peyton Robinson was ordered to remove his American flag and POW-MIA flag in the bed from his pickup truck by an administrator at York Comprehensive High School Wednesday, according to WBTV.
Speaking to reporters, Robinson noted that the official told him “‘We’re having some issues. Some people were complaining about the flags in your truck,'” and that the offending items should be removed before the student returned to school the next day.
Robinson says that a school official had even unscrewed bolts holding the flags to the truck, and laid them in the back “when I wasn’t even there.”
“That’s our country’s flag. I have every right to do it.” Robinson argued. “I don’t see a safety issue. I mean I understand it’s a big flag – it’s 4 by 6 – but nobody has ever complained about it being in their way or anything.” he added.
The school officials then changed their story, suggesting that the flags constituted “safety concerns,” with the Superintendent suggesting they could block the view of drivers and cause accidents. It isn’t clear why school officials changed their story and suddenly took on the role of traffic cops.
The senior took to social media and posted about the incident on his Facebook page. Fellow students vowed to stand with Robinson, flying flags on their cars when they arrived at school Thursday morning. Students, parents, and veterans flocked to school grounds to wave U.S. flags in protest.
“When I hear that you can’t fly the American flag it makes my blood run red, and my blood is red,” said Vietnam Veteran Michael Douglas, protesting at the school.
By Thursday, the school decided to reverse its position, saying Robinson and other students are free to fly US flags on vehicles so long as they pose no hazard.
The school district posted on its website:
“Due to the outstanding display of patriotism through peaceful demonstration, it is apparent to us that many are not happy about this policy. School officials have reviewed the standing policy regarding flags and have decided that an exception will be made for the American flag, as long as the size of the flag(s) does not create a driving hazard.”
“We’re just glad we got this victory today, and it just proves if you stand up for your country, you stand up for what you believe in, things get changed,” said James Crump, another protester.
Robinson told reporters he was happy with the outcome and is “Just proud to be an American.”
“I’m really surprised all these people showed up and I’m really appreciative of all the support from everybody, I had no idea it would get this big,” Robinson said.
Incidents like this one that attempt to limit patriotism have happened in the past, including when students at a high school were told to remove flags on the last anniversary of 9/11. Students have also gotten in trouble for displaying American flags on Cinco de Mayo and have been banned from wearing American t-shirts for fear of the garments being ‘disruptive’.