York Comprehensive High School in South Carolina relented after officials there told senior Peyton Robinson not to come back to school unless he took down the American flag he flies from his truck.
“He said we’re having some issues. Some people were complaining about the flags in your truck, possibly offend them. He asked me to take it down,” Robinson said.
School officials went so far as to unbolt and take down both Robinson’s American flag and his POW/MIA flag and lay them down in the bed of his truck.
When confronted with a protest in the form of Patriot Guards all flying the American flag at the school, officials backed down and blamed “safety concerns” for their flag shenanigans.
Thursday morning, several students, parents, and veterans protested the incident, many setting up across from school grounds waving flags.
“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.
Just before noon Thursday, officials at York Comprehensive High School said Peyton Robinson and other students could keep the U.S. flag on his vehicle as long as no driving hazard exists.
Parents who were part of the demonstration called the decision a win.
“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.
“We fought for it, I fought for it,” said Patriot Guard rider Mark Ludwig.
Robinson noted that this claim is far different from other free speech issues roiling academic institutions
“I’d understand if it was the Confederate flag or something that might offend somebody,” Robinson said. “I wouldn’t do that. But an American flag – that’s our country’s flag. I have every right to do it. 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.”
According to Robinson, a school administrator told him to remove the flags when he got home, and not come back to school with them.
But the 18-year-old said before the school day was over on Wednesday, a school official went to Robinson’s parked truck, removed the bolts that secured the flags to the truck, took the flags down, and “laid my flags down in the middle of my truck when I wasn’t even there.”
Robinson was angry.
“I was pretty mad,” he said. “I don’t see how it’s a problem. Nobody has ever complained about it before.”