ASHEBORO, N.C. – When Ever Lopez determined to put on a Mexican flag to his highschool commencement ceremony, he hoped to assist his tradition. Lopez did not anticipate anybody would react strongly in opposition to it, however due to the flag, Lopez was denied his diploma.
On the Asheboro Excessive Faculty commencement ceremony on Thursday night time, Lopez stated he carried the flag in and draped it over his shoulders whereas he was seated. Lopez stated he was seated close to lecturers, and nobody talked about the flag till he reached the stage.
“I simply gotta symbolize,” Lopez explains, “I did it for my household. They came to visit right here to present me a greater future.”
As the primary to graduate in his speedy household, the ceremony held a particular significance for Lopez.
When his title was referred to as, he stepped up on stage, able to obtain his diploma. The principal wouldn’t hand it over, although, and spoke with him quietly as a line of scholars waited behind him. After a couple of seconds, he walked off the stage with out his diploma.
“I personally was very upset, and I needed to comprise my feelings as a result of we’re in a public space. We had lots of people with eyes on us,” stated Lopez’s cousin, Adolfo Hurtado.
Lopez stated the administration advised him he was being a distraction, however a press release from Asheboro Metropolis Colleges says he was out of costume code.
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“The guts of the problem is the truth that the coed didn’t observe the established costume code for the occasion and detracted from the significance and the solemnity of the ceremony,” in response to a press release from Asheboro Metropolis Colleges. “Our costume code is in place to make sure the dignity of the occasion is upheld and is honest to all college students. Commencement is a milestone occasion and it’s grossly unfair for one particular person to decrease this occasion by violating the costume code.”
The varsity’s assertion additionally stated the denial of Lopez’s diploma wasn’t concerning the Mexican flag and that different college students had flags on their commencement caps and weren’t punished. Photographs and accounts from the ceremony present different college students with stoles exhibiting the Mexican flag, and people college students obtained their diplomas.
An e mail Principal Penny Crooks despatched to college students previous to the ceremony defined the costume code, saying male college students ought to put on a costume shirt and costume pants and feminine college students ought to put on a costume, skirt or costume pants and that no flip flops or tennis sneakers are allowed. The e-mail additionally says clothes ought to meet the faculty district’s costume code coverage. The e-mail and faculty costume code make no point out of flags being prohibited apparel and don’t say college students aren’t allowed to put on something over their robes.
After the ceremony, Lopez and his dad and mom have been referred to as into Crooks’ workplace to talk about the state of affairs.
Crooks stated that he may obtain his diploma if he apologized for the state of affairs, Lopez stated.
“I ain’t apologizing for nothing,” Lopez advised The Courier-Tribune following the encounter. “It is you who must be apologizing. You are the one doing fallacious.”
His mom, Margarita Lopez, cried: “For me that is not honest. That is one thing for racists.”
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Following their assembly, cops escorted Lopez and his household out of the constructing. Robbie Brown, asst. police chief for the Asheboro Police Division, stated the officers have been already on-hand for all the ceremony and that they didn’t dispatch any extra officers to the commencement ceremony. Officers escorted Lopez off the property on the request of the principal, Brown stated.
As of three p.m. Friday, Lopez hadn’t obtained his diploma. His mom stated she obtained a name from the varsity and that she was establishing a gathering subsequent week to debate the state of affairs. The varsity provided to satisfy Friday afternoon, however Margarita Lopez stated she most well-liked to attend so she may have others there along with her in order that she may have an ample translator, as English isn’t her first language.
On Friday afternoon, a gaggle of round 30 individuals gathered outdoors Asheboro Excessive Faculty in assist of Lopez. Some within the group held indicators saying “free Ever’s diploma” or “honk when you’re not racist” and others draped Mexican flags over their shoulders as Lopez did throughout his commencement. Each jiffy, automobiles honked alongside the highway in assist of their trigger.
Jessica Estrada, a pupil at Asheboro Excessive Faculty, additionally attended the demonstration to assist Lopez.
“I can’t think about how his mom feels proper now, contemplating the truth that he simply needed to indicate the place he got here from and present his satisfaction. He labored onerous to get one thing which means a lot to so many immigrant dad and mom. The truth that she refused to present it to him— it’s tousled,” Estrada stated.
The incident has generated a firestorm on social media with feedback over Fb, Snapchat, Twitter and Tiktok. Supporters of Lopez have began a petition referred to as “Give this man his diploma” on Change.org with over 40,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
“Now I really feel pleasure as a result of I’ve everyone supporting me,” Lopez stated.
Asheboro Metropolis Colleges stated following Thursday’s commencement, they’re reevaluating the costume code coverage. A consultant of Asheboro Metropolis Colleges couldn’t be reached for remark Friday past the varsity district’s launched statements.