No Graduation Walk For Confederate Flag-Wavers

Jun 4, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) ? Flying the Confederate flag has long been controversial in Southern states but now it’s causing a heated debate at Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minn. Three seniors who displayed the flag will not be allowed to attend their graduation ceremony Wednesday evening.

"It was sitting like that in the parking lot," said Justin Thompson, as he held a Confederate flag that was hanging from a pole inside a pick-up truck bed.

On Tuesday, three seniors, each with a rebel flag on the back of their pick-ups, parked at Kennedy High School.

"I’m just a country type of person, country music, big trucks and everything, that’s basically all it means to me," said Thompson.

"And then I found out later that day that it had been taken off when I got called down to the office," said Dan Fredin, who displayed the flag.

They were suspended and the suspension means they’re barred from all school activities including their own graduation ceremony.

"The Confederate flag is a symbol of, in some cases, hatred, bigotry and it has the potential to create a very disruptive environment," said Rick Kaufman, a spokesperson for the Bloomington School District.

Students protested the punishment and wore "Let Them Walk" at graduation T-shirts.

"You get to do this once in your lifetime. There’s no point in why they can’t walk," said one supporter.

Since the school principal is African-American, the students said that’s why he was so offended and too harsh with their punishment.

However, the district said they consulted a white principal at another school who agreed with the suspensions.

As for the students involved, Fredin regrets it.

"I did not mean to offend anybody. I guess it’s how you interpret it. And if I did offend somebody I’m sorry, it wasn’t a shot at anyone," said Fredin.

Thompson defends his actions and the flag.

"It has nothing to do with hate and racism, that’s just what these parents are teaching their children today," said Thompson.

A district spokesman said at the start of the school year, another incident prompted administrators to warn students the Confederate flag was not allowed on the grounds. So they feel as if the students had already received warnings.

The students will be allowed to pick up their diplomas on Friday.

© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc.

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