Around a dozen Cleveland police officers and their families reportedly led a group of hundreds of protesters who campaigned for the “thin blue line” flag Friday after it was banned from an Ohio school district this week.
The rally followed dire news that a Cleveland police officer was fatally shot Thursday night. Three suspects were reportedly arrested in the death of Cleveland police officer James Skernivitz.
The CLEVELAND OFFICER’s shooting death followed by another policeman who leads his own life
“My husband is a Cleveland Police Officer and my son is a Cleveland Police Officer. I have two of them and it is very important to me if one of them is killed, “protester Donna Glowacki said on FOX 8 in Cleveland.
The flag controversy began when a high school soccer player carried a police-friendly flag onto the field prior to a game last Friday to honor local first responders and his coach, who is also a police officer.
The flag is a black and white representation of the American flag, with one of the stripes in light blue representing the police.
OHIO SCHOOL DISTRICT Banned ̵
“This advertisement will not be a part of future pre-game activities at Chardon Sports Competitions,” Chardon Local Schools Superintendent Michael P. Hanlon Jr. wrote in a statement Monday. “In addition, our sports director will take steps to review planned pre-match ads for possible links to any form of discrimination or specific political views.”
The presence of the flag at the game sparked a debate in the community about whether it was innocent support for law enforcement or expressing feelings against the matter of black lives.
Hanlon said the leaking onto the field with the flag “could be interpreted as a racially motivated action” and he also noted that district politics “do not allow engagement in political activity”.
The district noted that the student was only trying to honor law enforcement but decided that the flag could be viewed as a political statement.
“We are here to support the police, we need them, we need their protection,” protester Chris Styblo told FOX 8. “The fact that the superintendent said this was a political move – what happened at the game – is wrong. It wasn’t a political statement. You have to know that most of us Americans are behind them. “
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Rally organizer Eric Downing said he was thinking of the police officers who responded to a high school shootout in 2012 that killed three students.
“I thought it was really disrespectful to the people who went to school in 2012 to save the teachers and students,” he told FOX 8. “Every day when you go, you kiss your family goodbye , they have no idea if they do I’ll make it back, no idea at all, and how can you not respect them for protecting you? ” he added.
Black Lives Matter has canceled a counter-protest out of respect for Detective Skernivitz, FOX 8 reported.
Michael Ruiz of Fox News contributed to this report.