The boys and girls basketball teams from Mendocino High School (California) had their invitations to a tournament at Fort Bragg High rescinded because they might possibly wear "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts during pregame warmups, according to The Guardian, though the boys team later had their invitation reinstated.
Following in the footsteps of their professional counterparts, both teams wore the t-shirts pregame on December 16th, when they played at Fort Bragg High. The girls team also wore them at two other tournaments. Despite the fact that the teams had worn the t-shirts numerous times with no incident—including on the Fort Bragg High campus, where the tournament will take place starting Monday—the Fort Bragg principal banned them as a "security precaution":
"To protect the safety and well-being of all tournament participants it is necessary to ensure that all political statements and or protests are kept away from this tournament," wrote Walker, who said she was speaking on behalf of the athletic director and the Fort Bragg school superintendent. "We are a small school district that simply does not have the resources to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, students and guests at the tournament should someone get upset and choose to act out."
The boys team was eventually let back into the tournament because all but one player agreed not to wear them, but enough of the girls team refused that they won't be playing. That one boys player won't play in the tournament, and his father says he's standing up (or sitting out, in this case) for free speech:
That's how Marc Woods, whose 16-year-old son Connor plans to sit out the tournament, sees it. Connor wore the t-shirt at the 16 December game in the name of team solidarity, but "now that's become a first amendment violation, that's what he is fired up about", the father said.
Woods said he was outraged by what he sees as using intimidation to silence players and fans. Fort Bragg administrators have warned spectators who plan to protest the t-shirt ban that they will be asked to leave, he said.
"It doesn't take a lot to suppress the exchange of ideas when you put fear into it," Woods said.
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