The North Carolina high school that punished a group of cheerleaders for posing with a Trump 2020 banner has cancelled its last football game due to security concerns.
Fox News reported that Stanly County schools announced the cancellations of North Stanly High’s game after receiving “additional information that could compromise safety measures our schools have in place for sporting events.”
The school district cancelled Friday night’s game without elaborating on what caused the safety concerns.
The decision to cancel the game comes just days after it was reported that the North Carolina High School Athletic Association put North Stanly High’s cheerleading squad on probation for holding up a Trump 2020 banner before a football game on August 30. The football game, according to the Stanly news & Press, had an “American Night” theme, with attendees encouraged dress in red, white, and blue.
“The North Carolina High School Athletic Association placed the cheerleaders on probation, prompting some in the community to complain that the students‘ First Amendment rights were being abridged,” Fox reported. “County Schools Superintendent Jeff James has said all North Carolina schools have a policy against displaying political signs.”
A rally was planned before the game on Friday, which may have resulted in the game’s cancellation. But organizer Jeremy Onitreb told the Charlotte News & Observer that “there was not threat.”
“Nobody’s coming up there to hurt the kids. It’s not what this was about.”
He said the rally would take place despite the cancelled game.
“The next rally is going to happen out at the NCHSAA offices,” he added. “Que Tucker is next, we’re coming for her job. Until she decides to resign, we’re taking this fight to her.”
Tucker has been the NCHSAA commissioner since December 2015.
Onitreb and Jay Thaxton organized the rally on Facebook after the cheerleaders’ probation was reported. The Observer reported that more than “200 people had RSVP’d by Friday afternoon with an additional 1,300 marking themselves ‘interested’ on the Facebook event page.”
Media outlets then reported that Thaxton supported the right-wing group Proud Boys, an organization that has engaged in violence with left-wing extremist group Antifa. Additional security guards were added for the rally in case counter-protesters showed up.
Onitreb told the Observer that safety was his top priority.
“I don’t expect any of that and I’m not looking for that and nobody in my group will be looking for that,” he said.
Onitreb also told the Observer that he and fellow organizers were in contact with law enforcement ahead of the rally. But then, he said, someone tried to shut down the rally by threatening the school.
“The reason they decided to cancel the game is because somebody out there wanted to shut down our free speech so bad — they wanted to shut this rally down so bad — that they were willing to call the school and threaten the school,” he said. “I’m flabbergasted.”
Onitreb placed the blame on the school, apologizing to the football teams and the cheerleaders. He also added that rallies would be held until the end of the season if needed.
“We’re not going down like this,” he said. “Rocky Balboa wore American flag trunks for a reason. Do you know how hard it was to knock that man out? Well, it’s going to be real hard to knock us out.”