“Woke” complaints about a “Blue Lives Matter” flag waved during a high school football team’s 9/11 tribute led the suburban New York City school district to apologize over a month later.
The Irvington High School Bulldogs were cheered as they carried the pro-police flag and a U.S. flag onto the field before their season-opening game on Sept. 10, as can be seen in a video shared by the New York Post.
More than a month later on Oct. 12, the school district’s superintendent, Kristopher Harrison, sent out a letter saying the event had “caused concern and harm to some members of our community.”
He said the players’ “regrettable” flag-waving had been intended “to honor 9/11 first responders,” but “context matters, and controversial, politicized messages are not representative of the inclusive, welcoming community that we seek to be.”
On a local Facebook group, Irvington residents and former students reacted to national reporting of the Irvington superintendent’s response.
“I am sad and sick at the same time. That is too WOKE! Let them fly the flag! I bet if it was a rainbow flag, or BLM flag they wouldn’t be offended,” one commenter marked as a former IHS student wrote.
“Get rid of that superintendent,” wrote another former student.
Harrison wrote that the players had not intended “to inject a politicized sentiment into our community,” adding, “It is from these experiences that opportunities are presented for us all to do better,” Harrison wrote.
The New York Post reported another email from Harrison that said “for community members of color, seeing the blue line flag on school grounds conjured up frightening emotions of events such as those that occurred in Charlottesville.”
The “Blue Lives Matter” flag and its “thin blue line” symbolism is embraced by some as a way to support police or push back against the Black Lives Matter movement, but it has been targeted from the other direction as a hate symbol favored by extremist groups.
No fallout evidently came from a similar 9/11 tribute at Irvington’s previous season opener, which, according to the Hudson Independent, involved a U.S. flag and a moment of silence.