Posted on June 6, 2008

Flag Flap: Confederate Flag Controversy Keeps Students From Attending Commencement

Karla Hult, KARE11-TV (Minneapolis), June 5, 2008

They say they’re just “good ol’ boys” who, like the song goes, were “never meaning no harm.” But three Bloomington Kennedy seniors were not allowed to attend their commencement Wednesday night after bringing a Confederate flag to school on Tuesday.

“We’re all big fans of the Dukes of Hazard,” said Dan Fredin, who was suspended, along with Joe Snyder and Justin Thompson. “It’s just us showing we have our own style and we aren’t going to conform to whatever anyone else thinks.”

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The boys argue they never took the flags off their trucks, but they admit they brought them to the school.

Officials asked the students to remove the flags. Eventually, all three students were suspended for three days—which, in this case, included graduation.

Officials say a Student Code of Conduct prohibits behavior that may provoke or offend other students.

“We are very clear that the Confederate flag is a symbol of hatred, bigotry and racism,” said Rick Kaufman, the Executive Director of Community Relations at Bloomington Kennedy High School.

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But the students argue the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. They say they show the flag as a sign of rebellion, not racism.

“The confederate army was in rebellion to the U.S. Army who were about money and power,” Fredin said. “We never took it as racial or anything like that.”

Meantime, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said the students would likely not have a case in court.

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The three students will still receive their diplomas. Already they have plans for next year, which for two of them, includes serving in the U.S. military.

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