School Bans ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts At Tournament
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]