YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - A high school in York County has spoken out after students protested Thursday morning when a senior said he was asked to remove an American flag from his pick-up truck.
Thursday morning, several students, parents, and veterans protested the incident, many setting up across from school grounds waving flags.
"When I hear that you can't fly the American flag it makes my blood run red, and my blood is red," said Vietnam Veteran Michael Douglas.
Just before noon Thursday, officials at York Comprehensive High School said Peyton Robinson and other students could keep the U.S. flag on his vehicle as long as no driving hazard exists.
Parents who were part of the demonstration called the decision a win.
"We're just glad we got this victory today, and it just proves if you stand up for your country, you stand up for what you believe in, things get changed," said James Crump.
"We fought for it, I fought for it," said Patriot Guard rider Mark Ludwig.
"Due to the outstanding display of patriotism through peaceful demonstration, it is apparent to us that many are not happy about this policy," the school district posted on its website. "School officials have reviewed the standing policy regarding flags and have decided that an exception will be made for the American flag, as long as the size of the flag(s) does not create a driving hazard."
"We appreciate the passion and pride of all who have called or come by YCHS over the past 24 hours. America was founded by Patriots who led positive change in a myriad of ways," the district continued. "We believe today is a great example of peaceful demonstration leading to positive change. This is the very process we advocate in our Social Studies classrooms and the fabric of American citizenship. Thank you for helping us as we educate the students of our community."
Crump said he felt the district's move was a good start for a middle ground. School leaders have not defined what size flag might make for a 'driving hazard.'
"Now if the school wants to let them display their flag a certain size, we need to, as parents and students, agree to stay within that limit, you know, boundary," Crump said.
Initially, school district officials told students they couldn't have any physical flags on their cars because of safety. Administrators said it was a pre-existing policy that was announced again Wednesday.
The school leaders called it a safety concern. "Anytime you get a flag of any kind flying, it creates a visual distraction," said York Comprehensive High School Principal Christopher Black.
"Just proud to be an American," 18-year-old Robinson told WBTV Wednesday night. Robinson said a school administrator told him remove the American flag and the POW-MIA flag, which he has in the back of his truck.
"He said we're having some issues. Some people were complaining about the flags in your truck, possibly offend them. He asked me to take it down," Robinson said.
The high school senior, who has several family members who served in the armed forces, was upset because he didn't see the problem.
"I'd understand if it was the Confederate flag or something that might offend somebody," Robinson said. "I wouldn't do that. But an American flag - that's our country's flag. I have every right to do it. I don't see a safety issue. I mean I understand it's a big flag - it's 4 by 6 - but nobody has ever complained about it being in their way or anything."
According to Robinson, a school administrator told him to remove the flags when he got home, and not come back to school with them.
But the 18-year-old said before the school day was over on Wednesday, a school official went to Robinson's parked truck, removed the bolts that secured the flags to the truck, took the flags down, and "laid my flags down in the middle of my truck when I wasn't even there."
Robinson was angry.
"I was pretty mad," he said. "I don't see how it's a problem. Nobody has ever complained about it before."
The senior took to social media and posted about the incident on his Facebook page. Fellow students vowed to stand with Robinson, flying flags on their cars when they arrived at school Thursday morning.
Despite being initially told he was not to come to school again with flags flying on his pick-up, Robinson says he plans to do what he's done for the past month - display his flags.
He called Thursday a victory, and added that he's glad others stood behind him, and more importantly that he can show his true colors.
"I'm really surprised all these people showed up and I'm really appreciative of all the support from everybody, I had no idea it would get this big," Robinson said.