An incoming college wrestler loses more than a match after shouting an anti-gay slur at a political rally.
Bronson Harmon, 18, has had his athletic scholarship revoked after video of his comment reached the wrestling coach at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where he was slated to begin classes this fall.
On June 30, Harmon showed up at a “Keep Families Together” rally in Modesto, where demonstrators were protesting Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. Harmon was part of a counterdemonstration supporting the president’s controversial policy of separating children from their parents. Carrying a “Donald Trump 2016” campaign poster, he was filmed yelling “Fuck you, faggot!” and giving the camera the finger.
Harmon said coach Jon Sioredas saw the viral video and called him earlier this month to say he’d lost the scholarship. A spokesperson for the school confirmed Harmon was no longer on the wrestling team.
“I totally regret it,” Harmon told the San Luis Obispo Tribune News of his comment. “I got caught up in the heat of the moment. I was there to peacefully protest the things that we believe, and people were harassing us, spitting on us and calling us Nazis.”
He added that, while his behavior was inappropriate, “I still feel like my freedom of speech was taken away, and I don’t think my scholarship should have been revoked over something like that.” But Athletic Director Don Oberhelman told the Tribune that offers signed by student athletes clearly dictate the university can cancel aid for actions that cause embarrassment to the school.
Harmon’s father, Todd — who was with him at the protest and can be heard shouting “send their asses back” — told reporters the family is “devastated” about the situation and has hired an attorney as part of a possible lawsuit against the university for violating Bronson’s First Amendment rights.
Abdul Lasaing, who shot the video, said he pulled out his phone when he heard the Harmons shouting as they approached. “I not once said anything to these guys,” he told The Tribune. “I was just walking. I’m not sure if I was disrespected for my skin color or my’“World Peace’ sign. I was shocked.”
“They scared families with small children which I find very wrong,” he added. “And all the racist and homophobic slurs were very disrespectful.” Lasaing feels bad that Harmon lost his scholarship but told USA Today, “I do believe there is consequences for your actions.”
“I do believe he needs help with his racism and homophobic hate. I am sure he’s a good person just raised with hatred.”
Harmon still plans to attend Cal Poly in the fall, but will now focus on his dream of being a mixed martial arts fighter.
Modesto police are considering misdemeanor battery charges against Harmon, after he reportedly shoved a man into a tree after the protest. The teen claimed he saw the man placing a screwdriver behind the tire of his father’s truck as they were getting ready to leave. But The victim claimed he saw the screwdriver and was just trying to pick it up to prevent the truck from getting a flat tire.
Is it fair that a college wrestler loses his scholarship for making a homophobic remark? Make your voice heard in the comments section.