Rally to support North Stanly cheerleaders on probation for showing pro-Trump banner

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

By Chris Miller

Stanly News & Press

NEW LONDON — A rally is planned Friday night across from North Stanly High School in response to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association placing the school’s cheerleaders on probation.

The rally will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in a field across from the school.

The cheerleaders were put on probation after a banner reading “Trump 2020 ‘Make America Great Again’” was unfurled before the school’s Aug. 30 football game. One of the cheerleaders brought the banner in a bag to the game.

Stanly resident Jeremy Onitreb and Jay Thaxton said they decided to have Friday’s rally to support the cheerleaders’ First Amendment rights.

“We saw an injustice,” Onitreb said. “We saw that the cheerleading squad’s First Amendment rights were being violated.”

Onitreb said there is a “lop-sided political bias involved in the decision-making” by the athletic association.

Though Onitreb does not have any children who attend North Stanly, he does have children in the school system. He said this is an issue that extends beyond Stanly County.

“Conservatives, as a whole, are treated as a pariah on a regular basis,” Onitreb said. “We are called Nazis and racists.”

Stanly County Sheriff Jeff Crisco said security will be beefed up at the school. Besides the Sheriff’s Office, Onitreb said he called North Stanly Principal Randy Mann but has not heard back. He also reached out to the athletic association to see if it would pull the probation before the rally.

Onitreb said he would love for 1,000 people to show up but he expects 75 to 200 to attend.

According to the organizers’ Facebook page, people are encouraged to bring Trump campaign gear, including “Make America Great Again” clothing.

“I figured we would get 15 to 20 people out there at the max to wave flags, but this has blown up nationally,” he said. “It’s gotten a lot bigger than we expected it to get.”

Though many people at the rally will likely be Trump supporters, the gathering is about supporting the First Amendment, Onitreb said.

“If they want to come and fly a ‘Bernie Sanders 2020’ flag, that’s their right,” Onitreb said. “As long as they come on their best behavior and don’t come with any hatred in their heart.”

Ultimately, he said, the rally is about the North Stanly cheerleaders.

“It’s about the girls; it’s about their First Amendment right and how it was violated,” Onitreb said.