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Students, parents show up in support of Confederate flag in Hastings schools

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HASTINGS, Mich. -- Dozens of students showed up at a meeting of the Hastings Public Schools board and shared their feelings over flying their Confederate flags.

Last week, the high school told students the flags were deemed offensive. Students were then told if they didn't take their flags off their vehicles, they couldn't park on school property.

School officials said that the issue brought in more people than who typically attend the meetings.

While the issue of the Confederate flag was not an actual agenda item, students wanted their chance to be heard.

Jayme Johnston, 19, said that she's been flying her Confederate flag from her car for years, and stands by her right to do so. "I get a lot middle fingers. I get a lot of thumbs up. I get a lot of looks," she said Jayme Johnston.

"I just think it's my right as an American. I should be able to. It's freedom of speech. I think, you know, I'm kind of a hick redneck."

Students admitted that more students started to display the flags once the school told students the flags couldn't be flown, citing the district's harassment policy. "It started out as a couple of kids," said senior David Storm, "And then, after they did that, it made it a bigger deal, and more and more and more kids kept joining in and going with it."

The group of students told the board that they don't believe the Confederate flag stands as a racist symbol and argued it's a symbol of free speech.

"I don't think it's offensive at all," said junior Emma Storm. "I mean, a lot of people fly flags with the American flag, and it's because we didn't fly the American flag, then it's offensive to everybody."

"Many of my friends are gay, so they can have their flags and symbolize what they believe in," said Johnston. "I should be able too."

Others opposed the presence of the Confederate flag on school property and said the flag's history is offensive to millions of people around the world.

"We've got a great group of kids. I was really impressed with the thoughts that these kids had tonight," said Hastings resident Jennifer Haywood. "Unfortunately, I just think some of them are not thinking about other people and not thinking about how they might offend somebody else."

"Understand that some people are offended," said school board trustee Rob Pohl.

Students also turned in a petition with more than 300 signatures asking the board to take note how passionate many people in the community are on their feelings that the Confederate flag should be allowed on school property.

Hastings High School also said that students have been obeying their request to not fly the flags on school property.

The consequence for defying that request has yet to be determined.

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  • Bud

    Political correctness has gone too far. Liberals are trying to rewrite history. If I’m an atheist and offended by religious holidays, will schools cancel “Winter (Christmas) Break” or Spring breaks coinciding with Easter? I think not. The administration are hypocrites. Next they’ll be rewriting the history books and teaching students that the Civil War never took place. The PC crap must stop.

    • wayne m (@irishanml)

      That is so typical of the right. This flag, for those of you who don’t for refuse to know was put up in Carolina to protest civil rights. You know equal rights for blacks? I find people who whine about pc all the time aren’t very self aware. They are usually bullies and have no idea why they are being called out for their bad behavior. Then when they get called out they play the pc card and if you disagree with them, they call you a libtard or an elitist. This flag is about racism. The fact most refuse to accept that and wish to rewrite history and claim the civil war is not about slavery is just silly. I can’t blame these kids, because they have been brought up believing certain things and they are young and not considering anyone but themselves. I stood and watched a black girl in hastings filling up her car next to an idiot flying that flag right next to her. I really felt bad for that girl. There are statues in the south of people who committed many atrocities against blacks with that flag flying over it. Not knowing your own history is no excuse to hurt others.

  • Eric

    Our southern brethren died to up hold the inhumane (see: Human) treatment of people who they would never to this day consider brothers and sisters. Winter break is not “Christmas Break” and Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but a celebration of “The fruits of the harvest”.

    • Steppers

      @Eric – Most of the soldiers died defending their families and their homes. 95% of southerners did not own slaves. But I’d bet that if an army were marching in to burn down your city, you’d fight against them. And if you had a brain in your head, you’d realize that you don’t want that army to even make it near your home, so you go fight them before they can get there. Common sense goes a long way. Give it a try.

      • Steven Burkhardt

        Those soldiers of the CSA were traitors to the United States. They took up arms against us. And you fraking defend them? They took up arms to defend their States rights to enslave. I call this BS and you a moron!

  • Kevin Rahe

    >Understand that some people are offended

    I’m ambivalent about the Confederate flag, but whether someone is offended by a thing is hardly an adequate measure on its own to determine if it should be banned. Some people are “offended” by a pro-life T-shirt or even an argument that illustrates how government recognition of same-sex unions is unjust.

  • Red blooded

    If you are a regular reader of Civil War Times, the Confederate battle flag is a familiar part of your world. The symbolism of the flag is simple and straightforward: It represents the Confederate side in the war that you enjoy studying. More than likely, your knowledge of the flag has expanded and become more sophisticated over the years. At some point, you learned that the Confederate battle flag was not, in fact, “the Confederate flag” and was not known as the “Stars and Bars.” That name properly belongs to the first national flag of the Confederacy. If you studied the war in the Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters, you learned that “Confederate battle flag” is a misnomer. Many Confederate units served under battle flags that looked nothing like the red flag with the star-studded blue cross. You may have grown up with more than just an idle knowledge of the flag’s association with the Confederacy and its armies, but also with a reverence for the flag because of its association with Confederate ancestors. If you didn’t, your interest in the war likely brought you into contact with people who have a strong emotional connection with the flag. And, at some point in your life, you became aware that not everyone shared your perception of the Confederate flag. If you weren’t aware of this before, the unprecedented flurry of events and of public reaction to them that occurred in June 2015 have raised obvious questions that all students of Civil War history must confront:

    • Steven Burkhardt

      No matter if it is the Stars and Bars, the Stainless Banner, or any other flag of the Confederacy, the fact remains that they are all flags of Traitors, and none should be displayed in the United States, except cemeteries and battlefields or reenactments.

  • DScott Barry

    What we should really be offended by is the erosion of our freedoms, not some piece of cloth. If you are offended by something someone else is doing, I’m sure someone is offended by something you’re doing. Whatever happened to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Thicken your skin, people. Or, to quote one of my favorite songs, “Get Over It!” (the Eagles), the big bad world doesn’t owe you a thing.

  • Parseltongue

    I think if you fly the confederate flag it just shows how ignorant you are- I don’t see it as offensive. There’s many more things to find offensive today- like unjust treatment of homosexuals, pro-life issues such as pollution, war and violence and a runaway capitalist system that puts profits over people- I’m all offended out and have no more room for a flag.

  • Mercedes

    “Anyone today hoping to understand why so many African Americans and others perceive the Confederate flag as a symbol of hate must recognize the impact of the flag’s historical use by white supremacists. The Civil Rights Era has profoundly affected the history of the Confederate flag in several ways. The flag’s use as a symbol of white supremacy has framed the debate over the flag ever since. Just as important, the triumph of civil rights restored African Americans to full citizenship and restored their role in the ongoing process of deciding what does and does not belong on America’s public symbolic landscape. Americans 50 or older came of age when a symbolic landscape dotted with Confederate flags, monuments and street names was the status quo. That status quo was of course the result of a prolonged period in which African Americans were effectively excluded from the process of shaping the symbolic landscape. As African Americans gained political power, they challenged—and disrupted— that status quo. The history of the flag over the last half-century has involved a seemingly endless series of controversies at the local, state and national levels. Over time, the trend has been to reduce the flag’s profile on the symbolic landscape, especially on anyplace that could be construed as public property. As students of history, we tend to think of it as something that happens in the past and forget that history is happening now and that we are actors on the historical stage. Because the Confederate battle flag did not fade into history in 1865, it was kept alive to take on new uses and new meanings and to continue to be part of an ever-changing history. As much as students of Civil War history may wish that we could freeze the battle flag in its Civil War context, we know that we must study the flag’s entire history if we wish to understand the history that is happening around us today. Studying the flag’s full history also allows us to engage in a more constructive dialogue about its proper place in the present and in the future.”

  • Steve

    The offended do not get an automatic unquestioned veto. Their response to so-called hate is genuine hate. Agree to disagree. That IS the First Amendment

  • Nicholas Beauchamp

    Whether you’re offended or not. Whether this flag seems racist in your eyes or not. Whether its politically correct or not. The freedom of speech was put into place to defend unpopular speech such as the Confederate flag. Even if you do disapprove of this flag you don’t have any right to tear it down. The same goes for any other symbol.

    • wayne m (@irishanml)

      Like I tell my kids. At least when you see someone flying that flag, you know who to stay away from. When I was young, I thought that flag just looked cool. Now that I know it’s history and especially the one in Carolina that was put up only to protest civil rights, I’m appalled I ever wore that symbol on a piece of clothing when I was young.

  • wmrharris

    In a northern community with GAR medallions in the cemetery, the Confederate flag is a mockery of what our ancestors stood and fought for.

  • Laurin

    What if a million Muslims are offended by the American Flag? Will it be banned? This PC needs to be changed to PS (Political Stupidity)!!!

  • Steve

    I am the founder of Confederates of Michigan on Facebook. We are 2000 members strong. I am open to debate any man who says this flag stands for hate.

    • Steven Burkhardt

      Bring it on. It is beyond a symbol hate. It is a symbol of a people who wished to continue to subjugate a particular group of fellow human beings. It is a symbol of traitors to the United States. They fired on and killed United States soldiers. They are beneath contempt. And to continue to ignore these basic facts diminishes the sacrifices that Michiganders gave in order to keep our nation from tearing itself apart.

  • Michael

    This is really simple, the confederate flag has racial connotations associated with it. The flag they are using became popular during segregation, Jim Crow, all of that in the south in the 60’s. It is a hateful symbol that stands for separation between whites and minorities. Just because you’re a redneck, doesn’t mean you can ignore the facts about it being hateful and racist. You ignoring that, doesn’t mean it’s not real. That just makes you ignorant. If you want to be an American, fly the American flag. That other trashy flag is un-American. It stands for division, separation, hate. Would even be better served to fly a rainbow flag. Those stand for inclusion, acceptance, love. And no, supporting those flags, flying it or whatever does not make you gay. Flying the confederate flag, choosing to ignore its hateful past simply because you want to be a hick redneck, makes you ignorant.

    • Laurin

      Michael, it isn’t so much that I am a “redneck” it has more to do with freedom. I am white and I am disappointed in how my freedoms are being taken away. Do we ALL deserve to be treated the same? I like history because we have so much to learn from it. If we pick and choose which parts of history are to be buried, we deal ourselves a blow of inaccuracy that affects future generations. For example- what happened with Native Americans. They were hated and mocked for generations- right up to where they were almost wiped out- Genocide ring a bell? By now, none of us are slaves or at risk of being wiped out by genocide. Right now, we all have history. As a white, my history of horror was a few more generations earlier. Right now, we should all have the same rights. It is not right that two blacks call each other the n word but if it’s spoken by a white, it can mean jail time. That is wrong. If a KKK can fly a flag legally defending his bs belief, or a muslim can burn and American flag on American soil, then holding a flag up that honors a family history should be left alone. It can be a symbol of a family era, where none were slave owners, they just hated yanks! That right shouldn’t be taken away because it offends a minority- heck even if it offends a majority! It is a right, the same as the black power flags. Do I thing all this is ok? NO. Anything that takes and separates us as a nation makes us weak. Separated we fall, and fail. We should ALL be concentrating on how to get along better rather than deciding on how our past should keep us separate now.

  • L.A.

    “Many of my friends are gay, so they can have their flags and symbolize what they believe in,” said Johnston. “I should be able too.”

    What belief of these high school students does the confederate flag represent?

  • Steven Burkhardt

    Oh Hell no! This is no rewrite of history as some would claim. This is not about our heritage in Michigan. This flag represents traitors to the United States. This represents black oppression and subjugation. What do history teachers teach these children? This must be stamped out once and for all!

  • Matt

    First off the recent attention of the “Confederate flag” started in Washington! Remember the church in Charleston that was shot up?. A mentally ill young man committed the crime was shown in pictures posing with confederate flags! Washington’s administration condemned the flag (and guns) as the reason for this crime! In reality Obama used this and other events to divide our country ! When our country is in a time of need we should all stick together and not let the powers that be divide us as a nation. Remember that schools are ran by college educated administrators and college has a huge liberal agenda! By that the schools follow what ever comes out of Washington. This is up to all of us to stop the divide of our nation. People are tired of the political correctness, people need to get some thicker skin and stop whining about ever little thing!

    • wayne m (@irishanml)

      No people are tired of those who would rather defend a flag that was put up in Carolina to protest civil rights and a flag that represents slavery and a flag that was used by racist whites in the 60’s defend it by crying Pc and then using it to attack the President of the United States. Constantly playing the PC card to defend bad behavior and even worse racist behavior is what is getting tiresome. The first words out of every bullies mouth is, you are too sensitive, you need a thicker skin, can’t you take a joke and this Pc stuff needs to stop. How about you just act like a decent human being with common courtesy?

      • Laurin

        No, I think people are sick and tired of petty bickering. Making big deals out of things that should not be nation dividing. Calling names, waving flags, temper issues. It’s just annoying. It reminds me of 3 kids left in a car. It is immature and a stupid thing for our kids to see. Tolerance and peace is what WE should be teaching. Words shouldn’t be said, but if it is consider the source and let it go. Flags that offend shouldn’t be flown if it offends our neighbors, but if it is flown, let it go!! I hate to say it, but our country sounds like a bunch of spoiled kids with nothing better to do. Our media is a HUGE instigator, they live on this stuff. So tired of our news media.

      • Matt

        You are the exact problem that we have in this country! The exact problem that this administration has started. You blame “the other side” for everything that is wrong when it’s really you and people who think like you. I never mentioned Race! Why did you? In fact don’t post here until you have grown up enough to try to act somewhat intelligent.

  • John cole

    It’s racist ignorance, no more, no less. Let the students march through Ferguson, Mo with their flag and see if they’re brave enough to match the bravery of Blacks in the real fight against racism.

    • Matt

      Ya, the world watched how the black youth marched against racism by burning and looting their own neighborhoods! The confederate flag is the issue here!

      • Laurin

        Our country is suffering from a bone cancer. It’s coming from the inside out. Without a radical chemo therapy the symptoms of bullies, racism, PC etc may just kill us. Tolerance is a huge defense as is taking care of your neighbors. I’m afraid without some sort of intervention to change the mindset, our future is going to be even more difficult.

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