by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. - When Trey Gainey drove his pickup truck to school Monday morning, he didn’t expect to be met in the parking lot by school officials telling him to remove a Confederate flag flying from his antenna.
The Richmond Senior High School junior said he flies the flag every weekend, and decided to leave the flag on his truck on his last day of classes before finals start.
Gainey has a belt buckle that says “Redneck” and a horn that plays “Dixie,” so there is no mistaking how the teen identifies himself.
“It’s just my Southern heritage, you know. I was born and raised down here and [it] wasn’t nothing racist, just me,” he said.
But when he drove into the school’s parking lot, school officials made him take it down.
“I’m like, ‘What have I done wrong?’ you know,” Gainey said.
So, the teen told the school officials he would not remove the flag.
When administrators threatened to have his truck towed off school property, Gainey got behind the wheel of his truck and locked the doors.
“I said, ‘If you’re towing my truck, you’re towing me with it,’” he recalled.
Eventually, Gainey’s mother came to the school and took the flag down for him.
In an email statement, his father said he thought the school went too far.
“Personally, as a parent, I am against the flying of the Confederate flag other than at an individual’s home. However, I believe my son’s rights were violated,” he wrote.
The Richmond County School District Superintendent George Norris said the district supports free speech and expression, but added the Confederate flag can cause disruptive violence or incite violence.
He said the school district’s first concern is keeping students safe, which could be a problem if someone gets angry about seeing the flag on school property and tries to do something about it.
But Gainey still argues that he did nothing wrong or out of hate.
“I don’t dislike this color or that color,” Gainey said.
Gainey said he could get into more trouble if he flies the flag to school again, so he has opted to leave it off his truck’s antenna until the weekend.