Controversy swirls over confederate flag

Published: Oct. 25, 2011 at 11:08 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2011 at 2:32 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- The Confederate flag is causing controversy between one Carolina Forest family and the Horry County School District.

When Ashton Jacobs showed up to school yesterday driving his truck with the Confederate flag on it, he was asked to remove it immediately, and he told WMBF News if he puts it back on school property, he will be expelled from school.

What one family is calling a freedom of expression, the Horry County School Board says is a safety concern. Parent Selena Jacobs-Wilson says "We grew up in the South and it's what we do I guess, you could call us true rednecks at heart." The Confederate flag is the center of controversy in South Carolina, and it has different meanings for everyone.

Ashton Jacobs says, "I don't feel it's racist-it's a southern pride thing. I have no racist feelings-I have many black friends." But school officials say the flag had to be taken down because of safety concerns. Horry County School Board Chairman Will Garland says, "We have had incidents in this county recently when the environment became a lot less than safe in a matter of seconds. Anything that could precipitate that we want to avoid."

And school board members say the situation was handled with the same principles as offensive clothing. Garland adds, "For a large segment it is a very offensive symbol and as a result can cause emotions to run high and could be disruptive to school behavior and could lead to fist cuffs or violence. In this case, SRO officer followed protocol-he followed the same guidelines as clothing."

But Selena Jacobs-Wilson says Horry County Schools is violating her son's freedom of expression. Jacobs-Wilson says, "If kids are wearing offensive stuff are you going to make kids take everything off because of what they believe in? Whether you are yellow, white, black or purple, have to let kids at some point have some type of freedom of speech...we live in America, right?" The Wilson family is talking with attorneys about the situation and their next course of action.

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