A high school in Ohio has suspended two football players from the team after they defied administrators by carrying flags at the start of a game that signal support of law enforcement.
Video shows the players for Ohio's Little Miami High School led their teammates in running onto the field at the home game Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Monday.
They carried flags colored with a blue stripe and red stripe that signal support for police and other law enforcement.
"While we understand these students' desire show their support of our first responders, they did not obtain permission from district officials," Little Miami Local Schools said in a statement to Fox19. "Administrators must act when students break the rules."
Brady Williams, a senior quarterback, said his father is a police officer and told WKRC-TV he wasn't trying to make a statement when he held the Thin Blue Line while running onto the field.
"I was just doing it to honor the people that lost their lives 19 years ago," he said.
The other player involved, identified as Jarad Bentley, carried the Thin Red Line flag.
"Because my dad is a firefighter, and if it had been him killed on 9/11, I would have wanted someone to do it for him," he said.
The players had asked permission and were denied. They were told if they did it anyway, there would be consequences.
"I don’t care what my consequences are. So long as my message gets across, I’ll be happy," Williams said.
On Monday, both students were suspended from the team indefinitely.
Superintendent Gregory Power said he saw the flags a political stance and did not want to set a precedent.
"We can’t have students who decide to do something anyway after they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be doing it," said Gregory Power. "We did not want to place ourselves in a circumstance where another family might want a different flag to come out of the tunnel, one that may be [one that] many other families may not agree with from a political perspective."
The school said a ceremony held before the game honored the people killed in the 9/11 attacks.
Power told WKRC-TV he has received hate messages by email and voicemail since announcing the suspension of the two players.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.