‘Hate Crime for Being White at a Football Game’ Leads to Legal Action

(Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash)

School suspended student for wearing sports eye black on his face

This article originally appeared on WND.com

Guest by post by Bob Unruh 

A school that suspended a student for wearing eye black, as athletes do to reduce sun glare, at a school event is now being sued.

Officials with the Center for American Liberty, in conjunction with Dhillon Law Group, have brought a case against the San Diego Unified School District on behalf of J.A., a middle-school student, who was punished for wearing the eye black to a football game.

An announcement from the center charged that Muirlands Middle School Principal Jeff Luna “baselessly” accused the student of wearing “blackface” with an “intent to harm.”

“School officials shouldn’t sacrifice their students’ futures on the altar of cancel culture,” warned Harmeet Dhillon, chief of the center. “No reasonable person would believe that a middle-school kid wearing athletic eye black intended to intimidate anyone or send a racist message.

“These baseless allegations do nothing but tarnish an innocent student’s reputation and jeopardize his educational future,” he explained.

Karin Sweigart, a counsel for the Dhillon group, said, “Without a speck of evidence to support his outlandish claims, J.A.’s principal found J.A. guilty of intentionally causing hate violence, a criminal act punishable by imprisonment in California courts. J.A. is guilty of nothing more than showing team spirit by wearing a well-known style of eye black, like hundreds of fans and professional athletes before him. The accusations against J.A. would be comical if they weren’t so hurtful and damaging to his future.”

The student’s father warned, “Not a single person said a thing that night, not one social media post, not the police, not the staff, and not the African American security guard who complimented him on his face paint. I spoke to many of the kids there that night, and one of the boys with my son that night was a black child. The boys didn’t even know what blackface was. An investigation was never conducted before they suspended my son and the administrators assumed the worst and charged J.A. with a hate crime for being white at a football game.”

The filing charges school officials created their charge against the student without evidence and without following their own procedures.

And those actions, the filing contends, violated the First and 14th Amendments.

WND previously reported that the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression called for the student’s punishment to be rescinded.

“Muirlands Middle School has no authority to discipline J.A. for his non-disruptive, constitutionally protected display of team spirit,” the free speech organization officials have told the school in a letter.

They ask school officials to remove any mention of the incident from J.A.’s school record and lift a ban on the student’s attendance at sports events.

Further, the school needs to renew its commitment to “binding First Amendment obligations.”

“Anyone who spends any amount of time watching sports will see players wearing eye black — black paint or grease applied under the eyes. Traditionally, athletes use eye black to mitigate glare from the sun or stadium lights, but it also has aesthetic appeal,” FIRE explained in a report.

“As one sports analyst put it back in 2008, ‘The real reason everyone loves to wear eye black is that it looks totally cool, like modern war paint.’ Some athletes go with the classic two black lines under the eyes. But for many others, the more eye black, the better.”

J.A., in fact, used eye black that was under his eyes and spread down his cheeks, copying professional players whose images were documented by FIRE.

J.A. was at the game, wearing the eye black, without incident.

“However, about a week after the game, the Muirlands Middle School principal called J.A. and his parents to a meeting, where he told them J.A. would be suspended for two days and banned from future athletic events for wearing ‘blackface’ at the football game. The disciplinary notice describes J.A.’s alleged offense as ‘painted his face black at a football game’ and categorizes the incident as ‘Offensive comment, intent to harm,’” the report said.

That, FIRE’s report said, “is preposterous.”

Copyright 2023 WND News Center

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