Google is a powerful vehicle for information. On a search results page, 60% of all clicks go to the top three results. This past week, when you search for â€œGrand Rapids footballâ€ in the Google News section, every one of the top three results is a report about the Trump and â€œBesty Rossâ€ flag controversy.
The incident took place at Houseman Field in the Grand Rapids inner city where Ottawa Hills was playing against Forest Hills Central on Friday, September 9.
A group of Forest Hills students stood in the stands, waving a Trump campaign flag and a â€œBetsy Rossâ€ 13-star flag. Parents at the game said that the demonstration was inappropriate and could be intimidating or even offensive to students of Ottawa Hills, a school with a large minority student population. They said that the flags could be interpreted as symbols of white supremacy.
One parent, Matthew Patulski, remarked that for some, including himself, the â€œBetsy Rossâ€ flag has become a symbol associated with white supremacy groups involved in what they call the â€œpatriot movement.â€
In an open letter to Forest Hills School officials, Patulski said that the flags and the chanting â€œleft a lot of members of my community unsettled.â€
Patulski wrote, â€œYour team, your coaches, your families were our guests, yet it seems many of your students are unaware of the negative impact these actions would have on members of our community in our home field.â€
In response to the concern and outrage by parents, Forest Hills Schools Superintendent Dan Behm explained that the students were participating in a â€œred, white, and blueâ€ theme night, which is held each year around the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
â€œThere was non ill will intended,â€ said Behm. â€œTo the extent anyone felt harassed or intimidated, that was not the intent.â€
Whether or not the students had an intended message, Behm has said that he is taking the matter seriously and that he hopes the students will discuss the issue during an upcoming senior retreat.