A Jordan, Minnesota high school basketball team hosting a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tournament pulled out after some of its fans displayed a "Trump 2020" flag at a game against Minneapolis Roosevelt High School, whose team comprises mostly African-American inner-city kids.
Following the game against Jordan High School on Tuesday, Michael Walker, of Minneapolis Roosevelt, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday: “Please explain how and why this is appropriate at a high school basketball game?”
The post featured a photo showing a group of white students, with the exception of one African-American student, holding the “Trump 2020: Keep America Great!” flag during the game, the New York Post reports.
“I coach a predominantly black inner-city high school team,” Walker said. “We go out to a rural area in Jordan, MN and this is there.”
According to the mother of a student from Jordan, the flag was shown off as part of a long-scheduled USA blackout theme night.
However, Walker and several other anti-Trump critics denounced the move nonetheless.
“Whether those students or the mother who owns that banner cares to admit it or not, those students took it with a specific intention in mind,” a user said. “Politics has no business in a school basketball game.”
Roosevelt's team has consistently sparked outrage on social media after deciding to not emerge from the locker room while the national anthem was played both at home and away games.
Minneapolis schools spokesman Dirk Tedmon said, “The Jordan team was made aware of that practice before the game."
Speaking to the Star Tribune, Bridget Kahn, the mother who owned the flag, claimed her son and his classmates were simply expressing their support for the president. “They don’t have a racist bone in their body,” she asserted.
A HS basketball team has come under fire after fans displayed a Trump 2020 flag during a game last week. Now, Jordan High School has pulled out of the MLK showcase tonight @ Roosevelt High School. I’ll have reaction from both schools and what led to the decision on @KSTP at 5 & 6 pic.twitter.com/no2idF4Kpk— Ashley Zilka (@ashleyzilka) January 21, 2019
That said, the Jordan school district’s superintendent, Matt Helgerson, ignored her words and instead released a statement condemning the act, even calling for a probe into the incident.
“[District officials] regret that Roosevelt players and their coaching staff, fans and community were made to feel uncomfortable, as it is always our intent to graciously host our opponents,” he told the Tribune.
“[The district is] reviewing this matter and collecting information [and] working cooperatively with the Minneapolis School District and Roosevelt High School in our review and response to this event.”
As a result, Jordan officials announced at the time their school team would not be participating in the “MLK Showcase” event scheduled for Monday against the Minneapolis Patrick Henry at Minneapolis Roosevelt."
“After discussion with the MLK Showcase event coordinator, a decision has been made to pull out,” said Helgerson.
“Given recent events, we believe the participation of our team in the event will detract from the hard work of the athletes and the upbeat focus of the MLK Showcase … We will continue to work with the Minneapolis School District … to move forward in a positive direction.”
Henry coach Jamil Jackson said he feels badly for the Jordan players, who "will be thinking the entire day," when the slain civil rights leader is remembered, "about why they are not playing and every aspect of that, from black and white issues to basketball issues."