CHARDON, Ohio (WJW) — Hundreds of people showed up to show their support for law enforcement and the Chardon football team after they were told they couldn’t display the “Thin Blue Line” flag at future school events.
Leading the charge, about a dozen Cleveland police officers and their families, who lost one of their own just 24 hours ago. Detective James Skernivitz, 53, was shot and killed in the line of duty.
“My husband is a Cleveland police officer and my son is a Cleveland police officer. I have two of them and it’s dear to my heart when one of them are killed,” said Donna Glowacki.
The demonstration is in support of the flag that represents police, which has come under fire in the district. The controversy erupted last week when several Chardon football players carried a ‘Thin Blue Line’ flag onto the field during the game.
“We’re here to support the police, we need them, we need their protection. The fact that the superintendent stated this was a political move what happened at the game, it’s wrong, it wasn’t a political statement,” said Chris Styblo, who attended the rally.
After the game, some posts on social media claimed the flag was a racist symbol. The school district ultimately determined the students were only trying to show support for law enforcement.
However, the superintendent did believe the flag could be viewed as political activity on school grounds, and banned its display by staff and students during school-sponsored activities.
“They need to know that most of us Americans, we stand behind them,” said Joe Styblo.
“I thought it just was really a disrespect to the people who ran into the school to save the teachers and students in 2012,” said rally organizer Eric Downing.
Downing says he organized the event thinking about the Chardon police response to a mass school shooting more than eight years ago.
The rally ended with a moment of silence for the officer killed in Cleveland Thursday night.
“Every day they leave, they kiss their family goodbye, they have no idea if they’re gonna make it back, no idea at all and how can you not respect them for protecting you?” said Downing.
A counter protest by “Black Lives Matter” was originally scheduled for the same time. But according to one of the group’s social media posts, they canceled it out of respect for Cleveland’s fallen officer.
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