CONTINUING COVERAGE: FLOODS OF 2016

East High School Student Displays Confederate Flag on Car, Draws Differing Reactions

DES MOINES, Iowa -- An individual's thoughts on the Confederate flag usually depends on who you ask. But a student displaying it on his car at East High School has raised concerns as school officials asked him to remove it over fears it could cause problems on campus.

Young people expressing themselves on a school campus is nothing new but some forms of expression, like the Confederate flag, can cause others pain and even lead to violence.

“I don`t like it because I feel like it`s a form of racism,” said student Ian Gordon. “Stuff like that I just don`t like because I have African American family myself.”

Friends of the young man who displayed the Confederate flag on his ford Taurus defend his right to do so.

“Everybody`s entitled to their own opinion,” said student Bethany Chapman. “If you want to bring the gay flag to school, more power to you. You want to have your Confederate flag, you want to have the American flag, more power to you, it`s freedom of speech. This is supposed to be America, the land of the free but it`s 2016 and everybody`s offended by everything.”

Surprisingly, some people don't know the history of the Confederate flag.

The fact that we're in Iowa, and Iowa was not a part of the Confederacy and actually supported the Union in the Civil War, is irrelevant to some who support the flag. They say no matter where it's displayed, it represents southern culture and heritage.

"A lot of people who are in America have been in a lot of different places,” said student Tyler Willits. “A lot of people in my family are actually southern."

Yet for students of color, the flag represents something very different.

“It represents a bad time in our history,” said Alonzo Williams.

“Yeah, I mean it`s racist,” said Deala Brown. “Why would he bring it? I mean there`s so many black people at this school, like, it`s not respectful, so I don`t think he should.”

The district says when staff asked the student to put the flag away, rather than remove the flag, the student voluntarily moved his vehicle off campus.

The district says Des Moines Public Schools supports student expression, but the district`s first priority is and always will be maintaining a safe and orderly school environment for student learning.