The Saugus High School football team will no longer use the ‘thin blue line’ flag in its pre-game ceremonies after a decision by the team’s coach, the high school district superintendent has said. William S. Hart Union.
The flag, a black and white flag of the United States with a horizontal blue line, has become a controversial symbol. Some use it to declare their support for law enforcement, while white nationalists and other extremist groups have adopted the flag for their own movements.
In a letter sent to the school community, Supt. Mike Kuhlman said the use of the flag has become controversial.
“Just three days ago I became aware of a concern about this flying symbol at Saugus High School football games,” Kuhlman wrote in the letter dated Wednesday. “Despite emails asking for immediate action and threats of consequences if certain actions were not taken within a specific timeframe, we decided to take our time to understand the issue accurately and respond thoughtfully.”
School principal Geni Peterson Henry reportedly met with football coach Jason Bornn, who said he “wasn’t even fully aware of the banners in question”, although he noted that the he team had never organized a vote concerning a flag.
“…(It) came to (Bornn) that it’s possible some players on the team aren’t entirely enthusiastic about a symbol being used to represent the whole team,” Kuhlman wrote.
Bornn decided to stop using the flag “out of respect for his commitment to inclusivity, kindness and respect…”
“Please note that this decision does not translate to a change in law enforcement support,” Kuhlman wrote. “The degree of enthusiasm behind our district’s support of law enforcement is not measured by the acceptance or rejection of any particular symbol.”
The district is looking for alternative methods to show support for law enforcement, Kuhlman wrote.
The move did not please some.
“This is unacceptable behavior at any of our schools, let alone Saugus,” a speaker said Wednesday at a school district board meeting. “It represents the team. Yes, it represents the students, the parents, the residents.
“I’m appalled and I’m upset,” said a speaker who identified himself as a 28-year-old LAPD veteran. “It’s a job I’m really proud of.
“I personally believe this is a slap in the face to those who ran into danger at Saugus High School,” District Council Chairman Joe Messina said.
In 2019, Saugus High School was the scene of a shooting that killed two students. The shooter, who was also attending high school, shot himself and committed suicide during the attack.
Some speakers supported discontinuing use of the flag and exploring alternatives.
“I think there are thousands of other ways to show our support for our heroes,” said a Saugus Public Schools parent. “Unfortunately, [the flag] was co-opted by racist elements in this country, and there is a taint now.
“As a member of the African-American community, there was a spike in popularity of the Blue Lives Matter flag following the 2020 surge in Black Lives Matter protests,” said a speaker who identified as a student at Golden Valley High School, in the Canyon Country neighborhood. “A lot of people may have this confusion that his popularity came despite the Black Lives Matter protests.”
The speaker supported the survey of football players to find out their point of view.
“If they’re just trying to promote and show their appreciation for law enforcement, that’s fine,” the speaker said. “If their goal is something else, then I can see a problem with that.”
Los Angeles Times