- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2016

Several high school students who waved a Donald Trump flag and a “Betsy Ross” 13-star flag at an inner city Grand Rapids football game Friday night are being criticized as racist.

Some Grand Rapids Schools parents said it was inappropriate and offensive for white students from Forest Hills Central to wave those particular flags while playing against the Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills home team, which is predominantly black.

Parent Matthew Patulski, who has two students in Grand Rapids Schools, wrote an open letter Saturday to Forest Hills Schools leaders saying he was shocked to hear Forest Hills students chanting “USA” and “Go green, go white” during Friday night’s game, MLive reported.

He said the chanting and flags “left a lot of members of my community unsettled.”

“Your team, your coaches, your families were our guests, yet it seems many of your students are unaware of the negative impact these actions would have on members of our community in our home field,” Mr. Patulski wrote.

Forest Hills Schools Superintendent Dan Behm said the students were participating in a “red, white and blue” theme night honoring the Sept. 11 anniversary, MLive reported.

“There was no ill will intended,” he said. “To the extent anyone felt harassed or intimidated, that was not the intent.

“I think the students feel horrible and I feel horrible,” he said.

Mr. Behm said the student with the Trump flag put it away as soon as someone voiced concerns. The boy’s mother, Patricia Gerondale, said the students never intended to harass anyone with the flags.

“It wasn’t done to put anyone down or cause any negative feeling,” she said.

But Briana Urena-Ravelo, co-founder of the Grand Rapids Black Lives Matter group, said the students’ alleged racist intent was “obvious.”

“You can’t deny the overt, intentional racism and intimidation,” she told a local NBC News affiliate.

“For these white kids from a white school to bring out a flag of the colonies with the ‘Make America Great Again’ Trump flag to a game with black students on the field, it’s all very obvious,” she said.

Mr. Behm said he plans to respond to the community’s concerns and address the controversy with Forest Hills students during an upcoming student retreat, MLive reported.

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