Organizers plan event in support of North Stanly cheerleaders

Published 3:28 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A rally will take place Friday night across from North Stanly High School in response to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association placing the school’s cheerleaders on probation.

The event, titled Support for the North Stanly High School Cheerleaders, will be from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the field across from the school.

The cheerleaders were placed on probation after a banner reading “Trump 2020 ‘Make America Great Again’ ” was unveiled before the Aug. 30 football game. One of the cheerleaders brought the banner in a bag to the game.

According to the NCHSAA, “probation in and of itself, is not a punishment. It serves as a notice of behavior or action that is against NCHSAA Handbook Policy or contrary to expectations of sportsmanship and proper behavior. Should probationary infractions persist at a member school or within a team at a member school,  additional sanctions such as fines or suspensions could be implemented.”

Stanly resident Jeremy Onitreb, along with Jay Thaxton, decided to have Friday’s event to support the cheerleaders’ First Amendment rights.

“We saw an injustice,” Onitreb said. “We saw that the cheerleading squad’s First Amendment rights were being violated.”

Onitreb also mentioned a “lop-sided political bias involved in the decision-making by the NCHSAA.”

Though Onitreb does not have any children who attend North, he does have children in the school system.

He said this is an issue that extends beyond Stanly County.

“Conservatives, as a whole, are treated as a pariah on a regular basis,” Onitreb said. “We are called Nazis and racists.”

Stanly County Sheriff Jeff Crisco said added security will be present at the school. Besides the Sheriff’s Office, Onitreb said he called North Principal Dr. Randy Mann, but has not heard back. He also reached out to the NCHSAA to offer it the opportunity to pull the probation before the event.

While Onitreb would love for 1,000 people to show up, he expects 75 to 200 people to attend.

According to the organizers’ Facebook page, people are encouraged to bring their Trump gear, including “Make America Great Again” clothing.

“I figured we would get 15-20 people out there at the max to wave flags, but this has blown up nationally,” he said. “It’s gotten a lot bigger than we expected it to get.”

Though many people at the event will likely be Trump supporters, the rally is about supporting the First Amendment, Onitreb said.

“If they want to come and fly a ‘Bernie Sanders 2020’ flag, that’s their right,” Onitreb said. “As long as they come on their best behavior and don’t come with any hatred in their heart.”

Ultimately though, the rally is about the North Stanly cheerleaders.

“It’s about the girls, it’s about their First Amendment right and how it was violated,” Onitreb said.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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