As reported, a high school in California banned the wearing of “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during a holiday basketball tournament over security concerns.
That high school I having second thoughts.
The boys basketball team at Mendocino High School (California) will now be able to wear “I can’t breathe” shirts during warmups at a tournament after they were banned by the Fort Bragg High principal as a “security precaution.”
Karen Boyd, a First Amendment lawyer who represents one of the players, said the reversal by the Fort Bragg School District came just moments before she intended to file a federal court motion arguing that barring the shirts violated the free speech rights of student athletes.
The agreement will stand as long as the shirts do not cause any serious problems at the tournament. It also allows spectators to wear the shirts, which several did as the tournament got underway Monday at Fort Bragg High School, Boyd said.
School district lawyer Patrick Wilson said Fort Bragg officials wanted to avoid the cost of a legal battle but remained concerned the shirts could cause a disruption in the community that’s still mourning the death of a sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty in March.
The Mendocino boys team played its first game in the tournament on Monday morning after all but one of the players agreed to forego the shirts. It still has two more games scheduled. Too few members of the girls team accepted the condition and another high school was invited to take their place.
The girls team was also banned from wearing the shirts initially as well.