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Student, denied diploma at graduation after draping Mexican flag over gown, gets award 4 days later

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ASHEBORO, N.C. – A local student received his high school diploma Monday, four days after his principal set off a social media firestorm by refusing to present it at graduation because he draped a Mexican flag over his gown.

More than 100,000 people had signed an online petition Monday demanding that Ever Lopez be awarded his diploma. The controversy became so heated that police conducted extra patrols in and around Asheboro High School, saying at least 10 threatening emails have been sent to school employees.

The author of one email stated “I’m gonna shoot up this school if you don’t give that young man his diploma,” police said.

Ever Lopez, 18, says he wore a Mexican flag during graduation ceremonies for his family and to honor his parents who are Mexican immigrants.

Ever Lopez, 18, says he wore a Mexican flag during graduation ceremonies for his family and to honor his parents who are Mexican immigrants.

The incident ignited rallies in the city 25,000 people 85 miles northeast of Charlotte. Siembra NC, a statewide Latinx advocacy organization, held a rally for Lopez and his family and pledged full support.

“We actually have members here that have stood up, have fought back in our neighborhoods here in Asheboro against ICE, against wage theft and against discrimination in schools, which is what we’re seeing happening right now,” said Kelly Morales, an organizer for Siembra.

Lopez said he carried the flag into graduation Thursday night at Asheboro High School, draping it over his shoulders after he was seated. No one mentioned the flag until he reached the stage, he said.

“I did it for my family,” he said. “They came over here to give me a better future.”

A high school student wore a Mexican flag over his graduation gown. He left without a diploma.

Asheboro City Schools officials said last week that Lopez’s violation of the dress code was “grossly unfair” and “diminished the event.”

“The heart of the issue is the fact that the student did not follow the established dress code for the event and detracted from the importance and the solemnity of the ceremony,” the district said in the statement. “Our dress code is in place to ensure the dignity of the event is upheld and is fair to all students.”

Lopez said after the ceremony he and his parents met with Principal Penny Crooks, who wanted him to apologize.

“I ain’t apologizing for nothing,” Lopez said. “It’s you who should be apologizing. You’re the one doing wrong.”

‘I’m gonna shoot up this school’: Police report threats to Asheboro High

The Change.org petition was entitled “Give this man his diploma.”

“Ever Lopez was wearing a Mexican flag during his graduation and didn’t receive his diploma,” the petition states. “This is unacceptable, this man worked his butt off for HIS diploma.”

Video of the incident fueled social media outrage, and comments have flooded Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Tiktok. Lopez’s cousin, Adolfo Hurtado, posted video of the incident on Twitter. It drew 3,000 retweets and more than 1,000 comments.

“My mans left with dignity and honor!” responded @CarlosRIOS77. “He refused to take off the flag and threw his fist up high! May this brother get countless open doors and opportunities!”

Latinx advocacy group protests with family of Asheboro student denied a diploma for wearing Mexican flag

But not all agreed with Lopez.

“What’s the point of dress code if you can wear what you want?” tweeted @coreymoto. “There is no grey area with that, get your diploma and go celebrate in whatever style you want.”

And this from @irregular_view: “If it was a Confederate flag they would have given him 2 diplomas.”

Bacon reported from Arlington, Va. Shen writes for The Courier Tribune in Asheboro, N.C. Contributing: Rachel Berry, The Courier Tribune

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Diploma finally awarded to student who draped Mexican flag over gown

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