The freedom of expression rights apparently don’t apply to high school students after a Northern California high school was banned from a tournament for their expected champing of “I Can’t Breathe” shirts to salute Eric Garner.
Both boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams from a Northern California high school were disinvited from a tournament because of concerns that players would wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups, the Associated Press reports.
Mendocino Unified School District Superintendent Jason Morse told the AP that the boys’ team was ultimately re-invited to the tournament at nearby Fort Bragg High School “after all but one player agreed not to wear the shirts anywhere on the Fort Bragg campus during the three-day tournament.”
“Too few girls accepted the condition for the team to field a tournament squad,” the AP reports.
Both Mendocino boys’ and girls’ teams had reportedly worn “I Can’t Breathe” shirts while warming up for games in recent weeks without consequence. “I didn’t even know what it meant,” their coach said. “I thought it was a joke about how I had conditioned them so hard.”
“To protect the safety and well-being of all tournament participants it is necessary to ensure that all political statements and or protests are kept away from this tournament,” Fort Bragg Principal Rebecca Walker said in a written statement. She also commended the students “for paying attention to what is going on in the world around them.”