High school in uproar over 9/11 flags dumped by students who linked them to Blue Lives Matter movement

‘An important teaching moment,’ the school’s principal says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A controversy is brewing at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, after images on social media show flags that were placed on campus as a tribute to 9/11 first responders were pulled out and dumped in a trash can.

The school’s principal Denise Aloma sent Local 10 News a statement, explaining:

“On September 11th, a select group of students and parents installed blue and red striped flags to honor fallen police and firefighters. ... The presence of the flags was intended for remembrance only, however, some students felt these flags were not appropriate. An important teaching moment is upon us and the students involved have had the opportunity to express their feelings. ... In addition, each student has been invited to speak to our school’s diversity inclusion sensitivity committee to provide further understanding.”

The students who trashed the flags reportedly interpreted the flags as a statement of support for Blue Lives Matter, a countermovement spread in the wake of Black Lives Matter.

Many students say trashing them was disrespectful to the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

“They disrespected the flag,” student Joshua Jean said.

Said another student: “[The person who dumped the flags] believes that the school was racist for doing that kind of thing when in reality it had nothing to do with race, it had to do with 9/11.”

A petition is now circulating among the St. Thomas Aquinas community calling on the students who threw away the flags to be disciplined, saying: “When STA students brought the vandalism to administration’s attention, they were accused of ‘being insensitive to the events that have happened over the past year and a half.’ STA staff then proceeded to remove the ‘thin blue line’ flags from campus, spitting on the hard work of students.”

“It’s sad to see that people are throwing it away,” student Thomas Araya said.

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.