Little Miami football players brought on Toledo stage with President Trump

President Donald Trump brings two football players from Little Miami High School who were suspended for a short time for carrying flags that showed support for law enforcement at the start of a game on Sept. 11, onto stage as he speaks during a campaign rally at Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Swanton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Caption
President Donald Trump brings two football players from Little Miami High School who were suspended for a short time for carrying flags that showed support for law enforcement at the start of a game on Sept. 11, onto stage as he speaks during a campaign rally at Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Swanton, Ohio. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: AP

Two Little Miami High School football players initially suspended for carrying “thin blue line” and “thin red line” flags onto the field were brought on the stage with President Donald Trump Monday when he appeared in Toledo.

Cornerback Brady Williams and linebacker Jared Bentley were suspended for carrying the flags onto the field after school officials told them not to do so.

The students said they wanted to honor police and firefighters on the 19th anniversary of Sept. 11, but the thin blue line flag has become divisive and sometimes criticized as a racist rebuke of Black Lives Matter.

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Following public backlash, the players were reinstated the following day.

“They became more famous than President Trump,” Trump said to the Toledo crowd. “They were beautiful. I watched them run through the crowds with those flags.”

According to the Toledo Blade, Trump asked the players how their team was doing (“Could be better,” they replied) before applauding them for taking the flag onto the field.

“You know what, you’re doing great and everybody out here loves you and appreciates you,” Trump said. “You really set something up that’s incredible.”

Warren County Commissioner Dave Young and Prosecutor David Fornshell were critical of the Little Miami school district when the players were first suspended.

“I support the heroes of 9/11. I support my fellow law enforcement professionals. I support our firefighters , EMTs, dispatchers, and other first responders. I support Brady & Jarad,” Fornshell wrote in a Facebook post.

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The district explained its reasoning in a letter to parents before ending the suspension:

"While the district understands these students' desire show their support of our first responders especially on the anniversary of 9/11, they did not obtain permission from district officials to do this. School administrators must act when students break the rules, and these students were suspended from practice while the incident was investigated.

"With the Board’s support, the superintendent and high school administrators have completed the investigation. The results show that there were no political motivations behind this display of support for first responders on 9/11, but there were instances of insubordination.

“Moving forward, Little Miami is returning the players to active status and this matter will be addressed as an Athletic Department Code of Conduct issue, with any potential consequences to be handled by coaching staff.”

The Toledo Blade contributed to this story.