GOODYEAR, Ariz. (KSAZ) -- Some call it a symbol of hate from an era that preached segregation among Americans. But this Confederate flag is at the center of a fight in Goodyear.
The flag sparked a fight at a high school and the district suspended both boys involved.
The student who displayed the flag is now banned from doing so on campus and he says it's his right to be able to fly that flag.
The Confederate flag has remained a controversial symbol since the Civil War and to this day still incites a lot of emotion.
Historically, the flag has been known to symbolize a time of oppression and racism, but an 11th grader at Millennium High School says he has a different view of the flag.
"I'm not a racist person," said Jacob Green.
Green has driven his truck to school for the past six months with the flag flying on it. He says it wasn't a problem until a couple of weeks ago when he and another kid got into a fight at school.
"I've done nothing wrong. I've flown a flag on my truck.. somebody fought me because of it. I didn't fight him. I was walking around like a normal person. He confronted me, he hit me first.. I was defending myself," explained Green.
The school sent an e-mail to parents; suspending both kids for five days. Jacob was told he couldn't bring his flag on campus.
"Basically, they're taking away my First Amendment right of freedom of speech," he said.
The school district says it can limit students' rights while they're here on campus, especially when it comes to safety of the students and past court cases about this same subject -- the Confederate flag on school campuses, backs that up.
"Open display.. bringing it in.. it has been proven to be patently offensive to certain groups and the courts recognize that," said Agua Fria Unified School District Superintendent Dennis Runyan.
But Jacob says he researched the history of the Confederate flag and didn't find it offensive.
"Well, the flag means basically more independence, less government. It didn't mean racism, it didn't mean slavery, it didn't mean any of that. It basically meant what they were fighting for was their right to be independent and not have the government control them."
Regardless of what Jacob or other students believe, the school sees the flag as a source of trouble.
"Obviously there was some event that took place it was related to reaction to the flag and it did create an environment where it was disruptive," said Runyan.
And Jacob is learning a lesson about competing points of view.
"I'm not gonna take the flag off my truck for somebody telling me to do it. I believe in independence. That's something I want to do independently."
Jacob's parents are upset with the school district and also believe he has a right to fly the Confederate flag at school. They also believe Jacob was attacked by the other student and are calling it a hate crime and are considering filing a police report.
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