Sheriff apologizes after deputies ask Brunswick student to remove Trump flag

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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — A major flag flap in Brunswick County when a student was asked to remove a Trump flag flying from his truck.

Vinny Riccardi is dually enrolled at South Brunswick High School and Brunswick Community College. While at his college class on Thursday, Brunswick County sheriff deputies working as school resource officers told him something he was shocked to hear.

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“Two deputies came in and they just said they wanted to talk to me and I went into the office with my teacher,” the 17 year old said. “They told me I needed to take my flag down, so I didn’t argue with them. I came outside and took my flag down.”

Riccardi called his mother and let her know what happened.

She promptly called the sheriff’s office and Sheriff John Ingram apologized, saying that was not his deputy’s job.

She says he also told her there was confusion over how things like this were interpreted and handled in the past.

Sheriff Ingram released the following statement on Facebook:

”The incident that occurred at Brunswick Community College was a miscommunication that is now a learning experience for our deputies who work on campus. While we are committed to this new partnership with BCC, we must remember our role on campus. We enforce the laws, not campus policies. As Sheriff, I apologize to the student and his family for this err in judgment, and I’m proud of his enthusiasm! He was well within his First Amendment rights — and we think it’s great for our youth to be engaged in our nation’s future.”

“He said something to my mom yesterday and he let me know today and apologized to me in person,” Riccardi said.

Letting the 17 year old know he was allowed to fly his flag according to Brunswick Community College’s policies, supporting the first amendment.

Brunswick Community College’s policy on free speech and public assembly reads:

“Brunswick Community College encourages its community to exercise the right to freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. This policy informs members of the College community and the public of the manner in which they may engage in constitutionally protected speech and expression at Brunswick Community College. It is intended to protect one’s right to freedom of speech without interfering with the primary educational purpose of the College. The College will protect the rights of freedom of speech, petition, and peaceful assembly. Any acts that cause a material and substantial disruption to normal operations of the College including but not limited to instruction, College business, or actions which interfere with the rights of others will not be tolerated. Faculty, staff, and students engaging in material and substantial disruptive activity may be subject to disciplinary action. Any participant actively engaged in a material and substantial disruptive activity may face criminal charges.”

Riccardi says he believes it’s important for everyone to know their rights so they cannot be taken advantage of and, no matter what side you’re on, stand up for your beliefs.

“I think it’s important we stand up for what we believe in and obviously I believe in the first amendment and free speech, that’s why I’m flying my flag,” he said.

WWAY reached out to Brunswick Community College and no one was available for comment to speak about their policies or further explain their policies concerning politics on campus.