December 28, 2014 11:00 am -

A high school basketball tournament is at the center of a First Amendment controversy.


The athletic director at Fort Bragg High School informed his counterpart at Mendocino High School this week that neither the boys nor girls team would be allowed to participate in the three-day tournament hosted by Fort Bragg High starting Monday, Mendocino Unified School District Superintendent Jason Morse said.

The boys were reinstated after all but one player agreed not to wear the shirts inspired by the last words of Eric Garner, the New York man who died after an officer put him in a chokehold, while on the Fort Bragg campus during the Vern Piver Holiday Classic tournament, Morse said. Too few girl players accepted the condition for the team to field a tournament squad, he said.

Marc Woods, whose son, Connor, wore the t-shirt at a December 16 game, sees it as a First Amendment issue.

Woods said he brought the issue to the American Civil Liberties Union, and hopes to hear back after the holidays. He referred to a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Tinker v. Des Moines, which found high school students wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War were protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment…

Woods, whose father was a California Highway Patrol officer, said he is 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,” Marc Woods said.[su_csky_ad]

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

15 responses to School Bans ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts At Tournament

  1. MIAtheistGal December 28th, 2014 at 11:31 am

    I do believe this is a first amendment violation. Didn’t the ‘Bong Hits for Jesus’ case just reaffirm that students still have a first amendment right, even while at school?

    One caveat, however, is that those who wish to wear the ugly ‘breathe easy’ t-shirts would also be able to exercise their first amendment rights as well.

    • amongoose December 28th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      The 9th circuit court recently ruled against students who wore t shirts with American flags on them in a California school because it might incite violence from those of Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo. Apparently freedom of expression is no longer an unrestricted right. It was restricted there due to “public safety”.

      • Carla Akins December 28th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        Schools get special rules with the whole “disruptive” disclaimer, which I understand – I just don’t see how it would apply here.

        • granpa.usthai December 28th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

          starts a precedence that could possibly be used for KKK/Aryan/Master Race recruitment at HS, Government Facilities, etc.

          Nothing wrong with them being part of a protest before the game, or those not participating with wearing them in the stands though.

          In the eyes of ‘equality’ it would be the same as wearing ‘I’m Darren Wilson’ or ‘I’m a BFF with the lying sack of child murderer gz’ without expecting some sort of confrontation.

          Unfair to be sure due to past offenses, but in the long run fairer to those of the future who are not part of the current ‘last generation’.

          • Carla Akins December 28th, 2014 at 1:40 pm


          • edmeyer_able December 28th, 2014 at 2:17 pm

            Sorry I can’t agree with that. “I Can’t Breath” is about a particular case of police misconduct where the others are an ideology of repressing a certain ethnicity. jmo

          • whatthe46 December 28th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

            right. whereas the others most certainly pose a threat to peace. it could incite violence.

        • amongoose December 28th, 2014 at 2:50 pm

          It’s a H.S. basketball tournament. Extracurricular activities are an extension of the school.

  2. edmeyer_able December 28th, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Damn I wish I lived near a douche town that tried to pull crap like this. It would be nice to see every other team sit on the court and refuse to play when their game was to take place.

  3. Carla Akins December 28th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Way to go girls! A teen willing to sacrafice something important to them for the greater good is exactly the type that will grow into a wonderful adult.

  4. KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker December 28th, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    The students should sue based in infringement of their first amendment rights.

  5. rg9rts December 28th, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    So much for the first amendment in Ft Bragg…What if they open carried ???Would that be allowed??

    • amongoose December 28th, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      Neither open, nor concealed carry has been allowed on a military base since 1992.
      Ft. Hood may have turned out differently had they been, but that’s another argument.

      • rg9rts December 28th, 2014 at 4:15 pm

        Neither is freedom of speech for OUTSIDERS..

        • amongoose December 28th, 2014 at 5:05 pm

          Federal court disagrees, so until it is reversed it is the law.
          The judgement was made by a three judge panel and they have since denied a rehearing by the full court.

          AFLC filed a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

          but the supreme court has not indicated yet whether they will hear the case or not.

          This though is the same supreme court that upheld 8-1 a conviction in N.C. where an arrest was made, and evidence obtained at an illegal traffic stop.
          Even though the policeman who made the stop did so wrongly, but did so because he didn’t know the law.

          I thought ignorance of the law was not an excuse?
          Guess that only applies to us serfs.