Confederate flag stand threatens Crosby student’s graduation

School officials in the Crosby-Ironton school district reportedly have threatened to withhold the diploma of a senior because he showed up at school yesterday with a Confederate flag attached to his car.

His mother says he’s a supporter of the military and the right to hunt and bear arms.

“He was just trying to respect those people that fought for everything where we are today,” Dorene Nelson, Cody Nelson’s mother, said. “He felt like he was outnumbered because he was trying to be supportive of how far we’ve come in our country.”

She says he was planning to be back at school today with the flag still attached.

“Then he gets this thrown at him, with controversy and racism,” Dorene Nelson tells Fargo Forum. “When half his family is black. He took it pretty hard today.”

Displaying the flag is a violation of school district policy 504, “Student Dress and Appearance,” [superintendent Jamie] Skjeveland said.

“When, in the judgment of the administration, a student’s appearance, grooming, or mode of dress, or materials displayed, is inappropriate, interferes with or disrupts the educational process or school activities, or poses a threat to the health or safety of the student or others, the student will be directed to make modifications or will be sent home for the day. Parents/guardians will be notified,” C-I school district policy 504, “Student Dress and Appearance,” says.

“As with any violation of any of our policies, the school district took appropriate action,” Skjeveland said.

The applicable section of the policy reads as such: Objectionable emblems, badges, symbols, signs, words, objects or pictures on clothing or jewelry or other displays communicating a message that is racist, sexist, or otherwise derogatory to a protected minority group, evidences gang membership or affiliation, or approves, advances or provokes any form of religious, racial or sexual harassment and/or violence against other individuals as defined in Policy 413.

School officials won’t say how the student was disciplined but his mother said he was sent home for the day and suspended for the rest of the week.

His mother organized a protest at the school this morning.

  • Al

    Waiting to see how many other students/parents showed up at said protest.

  • Justin McKinney

    I would be interested to hear more about the mother’s statement “…when half of his family is black.” Is he biracial, or are these family members related in a different way? Not that it really matters in the context of the school rule, just an interesting piece of the story.

    Playing devil’s advocate, one wonders what would happen if an African-American student showed up with a Black Panther sticker on their car, or some similar symbol. Or if a student of any other race exhibited a symbol that could be construed as racist or offensive.

    Edited – Also curious, who/what is the mother referring to when she says “He was just trying to respect those people that fought for everything where we are today…”? I read in the linked Fargo Forum article that this student is supposedly quiet, respects the right to bear arms, the military and police. Is he trying to respect the Confederate Army (who didn’t fight for us to get where we are today, by the way), or what?

    • BReynolds33

      Someone would need to be smart enough to know what the Black Panthers were before they could take action on it. I’d be willing to be 90% of school administrators wouldn’t have a clue.

      • Sam M

        Yes, because everyone in our schools are idiots….. obtaining a masters or doctorate means your stupid. Brilliant logic.

        • Justin McKinney

          As someone who went to school to become a teacher, I feel compelled to correct a couple of things – it’s Master’s, and the correct form of the word is “you’re”.

          • Sam M

            You must stay busy on these boreds them:) Thanks.

          • Justin McKinney

            Touché. Well played, well played.

        • Angry Jonny

          And it’s “…”, not “…..”.

          • Sam M

            I went to private school…..

    • Dan

      “Half of his family” sounds like a corollary to “some of my best friends…”.

      Your “devil’s advocate” point sounds a lot like the commonly repeated fiction that nonwhite people can’t or won’t be charged with hate crimes.

      “One wonders”.

      • Justin McKinney

        That’s the entire reason I brought it up. There are plenty of instances where nonwhites are charged with incidents regarding their hatred for another race throughout history. But so many whites want to claim that it never happens. *shakes head*

    • >>…one wonders what would happen if an African-American student showed up with a Black Panther sticker on their car, or some similar symbol.<<

      If it violates policy 504 and the student in question acted in the same manner, the same action should be taken.

      • Justin McKinney

        That is truly what I hope would happen. Regardless of its source, bigotry, discrimination and symbols of hate have no place in schools. If he wants to hang a giant Confederate flag on his bedroom wall, go right ahead. He’s an American, and has that freedom. But in the public domain, there are certain rules that should be followed.

        • Plus there’s Policy 504 in place…

          /That’s some policy, that Policy 504…

          • 212944

            It’s the best there is.

  • Kassie

    Maybe it is taken out of context or something, but none of what the mom says makes sense. It sounds like she is portraying the confederate flag as some sort of progressive banner and doesn’t understand that it is racist. And the kid supposedly, “took it hard,” but not hard enough to remove it or apologize.

  • Leroy

    The idea that anyone can pretend in this day and age that it isn’t a racist symbol is ludicrous.

    This statement however just mystifies me: “He was just trying to respect those people that fought for everything where we are today,”

    Does he not understand that the confederacy fought against the United States? A better statement would be that they fought to keep us away from where we are today.

    • lindblomeagles

      Very well said because that’s exactly what the South was doing when they seceded from the Union.

  • “He was just trying to respect those people that fought for everything
    where we are today,” Dorene Nelson, Cody Nelson’s mother, said.

    Unbelievable. Simply, unbelievable. I think mom needs some remedial education intervention.

    • cody nelson

      thank you

  • Dan

    Well, what if he WAS was just trying to respect those people that fought for everything where we are today? Did you ever think about that?

    Just the kind of word salad you’d expect from someone trying to give a non-racist rationale for flying the confederate flag in Minnesota.

    • “Word salad” = Doesn’t have a single clue. 😉

  • Rob

    Not sure what supporting the military and the right to bear arms has to do with wanting to display the Confederate flag…

    • Postal Customer

      Come on. You know what is going on here.

    • lindblomeagles

      Which is precisely why the school said, “I don’t think so.” Last time the school took notice, the United States Flag supported the military AND defended the right to bear arms. Not sure the US Flag does this anymore? Just march your butt to the surplus store and purchase the Marine, Navy, Air Force, and Army Flags. Still unconvinced America’s major branches represent the military and arm bearing? Buy the Union Flag, or, better yet, the North Dakota State Flag. The school did the right thing here. Sorry mom.

  • Postal Customer

    Does he support the military that won the war?

  • Crashola Seventeen

    Someone at the school better bone up on their First Amendment jurisprudence (see Tinker v. Des Moines) and re-think their decision. That or get some bake sales going to pay for the lawsuit they will lose.

    • Rob

      I believe tinker v des moines involved students protesting the vietnam war, who claimed (correctly) that the school’s refusal to let them wear symbols demonstrating their opposition was a violation of their free speech rights. Not letting a student display a symbol that is unequivocally racist is a whole ‘nother ballgame, in which student free speech rights are (correctly) sublimated to more compelling state interests.

  • Crashola Seventeen

    It sounds like the school had a talk with their attorney:

  • Justin McKinney

    Just read an interesting article on Snopes. It clarified and confirmed what I already knew – the flag at the center of this and many other recent controversies was not a few things: 1) An official national flag for the Confederate States of America; 2) Specifically designed as a racist symbol; and 3) Consistent in its current design (it went through several iterations over time).

    Now, that being said, it doesn’t take a whole lot to understand that the flag in question has been associated with and appropriated by a large number of bigoted people in this country (e.g. certain chapters of the KKK, some white supremacist groups, etc.). With that in mind, I would argue that perhaps this young man should think a little bit more about what that symbol represents to a lot of people before he brandishes it about. It’s one thing to pull that kind of behavior in small-town Minnesota, where there are likely a very small number of minorities. But I can’t imagine what would happen to him if he were to drive around downtown Minneapolis and claim that he’s “not being racist” as he does in the Brainerd Dispatch story from yesterday. That may be true, but when someone waves a Nazi flag, the assumption is made that they support that type of ideology.

    Whether or not this young man is himself racist is beside the point. He displayed a symbol that is associated with hate groups, and the school exercised their policy regarding those types of symbols. Should they look at their policy? It’s probably a good idea, but I think they erred on the side of caution with this situation and were just fine.

    • Justin McKinney

      Also, I am still waiting to hear more about his “black” relatives that his mother mentioned in the initial story. Based on the footage of the family members that was shown in the Brainerd Dispatch story, I didn’t see any of them there supporting him at the school yesterday.