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The Guardian: A high school basketball tournament on the Northern California coast has become the latest flashpoint in nationwide protests over police killings of unarmed black men.
The boys and girls varsity basketball teams from Mendocino High School were disinvited from a tournament that starts on Monday at nearby Fort Bragg High, because of concerns players would wear T-shirts with the words “I Can’t Breathe” printed on them while warming up.
Several professional basketball players have worn “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during pre-game warmups, as have stars of the NFL. The slogan refers to the final words of Eric Garner, a New York man who died after being placed in an illegal chokehold during an arrest by NYPD officers in July. A grand jury decision not to indict the officer involved led to widespread protests in New York last month.
Mendocino unified school district superintendent Jason Morse said the boys team was reinstated after all but one player agreed not to wear the shirts anywhere on the Fort Bragg campus during the three-day tournament, but too few girls accepted the condition for the team to field a tournament squad.
Brian Triplett, the athletic director at Fort Bragg High, did not return a call and email seeking comment. Principal Rebecca Walker issued a written statement on Friday saying school administrators respected the Mendocino teams “for paying attention to what is going on in the world around them” and that the T-shirts were being prohibited 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.”
“I didn’t even know what it meant. I thought it was a joke about how I had conditioned them so hard,” Feehan said. “None of the administrators knew what it was or that any of them were doing it in advance. This was entirely for their cause that they had strong feelings about.”
Professional basketball players such as LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warm-ups this month without repercussions from the NBA. After Kobe Bryant and other Lakers players wore them before a game and on the bench on 9 December, coach Byron Scott said he viewed it as a matter of “freedom of choice and freedom of 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.
A county sheriff’s deputy, Ricky Del Fiorentino, was killed in March by a man suspected of murder and carjacking in Eugene, Oregon. The suspect was killed by a Fort Bragg police officer.
When I was a kid, “sit down and shut up” was something I hated. Now it makes perfect sense. Newsflash to these high school kids – you don’t have rights. You’ve never really had them in a public school in the first place. Google “Supreme Court school decisions 1980’s” and you might actually learn something. Besides that there are several reasons this is hilarious:
- It’s a fucking basketball game. Play basketball. You wanna protest? Cool. Join the school debate team.
- These kids play for a school district that has just about ZERO black kids, so I don’t feel for them at all. These towns are in the hippie part of California, which means their hippy do-gooder parents put them up to this. Because the bottom line is that high school kids don’t give a shit about Eric Garner any more than college kids do. All they care about is where they’re getting booze from this weekend or how to tuck their boners in during English class without anyone else noticing. Why do you think the entire boys team caved so quickly? Because at the end of the day they didn’t give a shit. They were willing to wear the shirts because it was the cool thing to do, but they sure as hell didn’t care enough to miss a Goddamn basketball game because of it.
- The NBA players that are doing it are only allowed to do so because the league and teams that employ them are ALLOWING them to do it. At any point they could be told to cut the shit or lose their meal ticket because at the end of the day they’re hired help and nothing more. You have every right to free speech, but you don’t have a right to play for the Lakers and anyone who thinks you do have that right is an idiot.
- The fact that Kobe Bryant is wearing an “I Can’t Breathe Shirt” is hilariously ironic, except for the fact that it involves rape. Remember when Kobe Bryant got away with rape? Because I do. Maybe he was wearing that shirt in memory of his
rapesconquests. Hope the next time Kobe comes to Boston everyone wears, “I Can’t Consent” shirts.
- It sounds like the school has a pretty freaking good reason not to let this type of shit go on. A cop in their town was killed in March, most likely by a criminal who was about to turn his life around and open his own barber shop. His family probably wouldn’t be too fond of a bunch of dumbass spawn of hippie white kids whining about how terrible police are.
Just another hilarious day in the life of the protesters.