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BLM flag added to Pride display in protest of Newberg school ban

The new Black Lives Matter flag stands on a hill next to a Progress Pride flag within view of Newberg High School.

NEWBERG, Ore. — A Black Lives Matter flag is now part of a display in Newberg, protesting a school board vote to ban "political" symbols.

About 20 people came together Thursday to paint and construct the 17x30-foot plywood flag. It now stands on a hill next to a Progress Pride flag on Erin and Jaybill McCarthy's farm, within view of Newberg High School.

On Aug. 10, the school board voted 4-3 to ban so-called political and "divisive" symbols. Members in favor of the ban argued Pride and BLM fall within that category.

RELATED: Newberg school board votes to ban BLM, Pride flags and signs in district buildings

However, advocates argue this is discrimination, since race, sexual orientation and gender identity are neither choices nor political.

"Black kids in rural areas need to know that they actually have support," said activist Andre Miller. 

Miller emphasized the phrase "Black Lives Matter" is not the same as the political organization of the same name.

"When we say Black Lives Matter on the street, we're really referring to our lives as Black people matter," Miller said. "Our life isn't political. The only divisiveness is white supremacy."

RELATED: Neighbors build Pride flag in view of Newberg High School after school board ban

"When members of a marginalized population ask for help, you say yes," Erin McCarthy said. "I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything. I'm trying to show love and support to members of these communities. If it makes you angry, it's not for you, so don't look at it."

The school district superintendent said lawyers must review the ban before it can be enforced.

The ACLU of Oregon has already threatened legal action if the ban moves forward.

The school board may face other legal trouble, according to reporting by Ryan Clarke of the Newberg Graphic. Clarke found four board members may have violated state law during a closed-door meeting when they voted to hire an outside lawyer.

The ban and resulting uproar have resulted in national news coverage and a peaceful protest in downtown Newberg on Aug. 24. 

The rally at the Unity Flag drew hundreds of people from around Oregon advocating for BIPOC and LGBTQ youth:

Hundreds are protesting a Newberg School Board ban of “political” symbols, which members said includes Pride and Black Lives Matter flags. These advocates are pushing back.

Posted by Galen Ettlin on Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Multiple studies by the Trevor Project and JAMA Pediatrics show both BIPOC and LGBTQ youth are at significantly higher risk of suicide because of bullying and lack of support.

"[These flags show] that they're worthy of being alive," said Kelly Lash, a licensed professional counselor at the protest. "Literally saves lives."

RELATED: Community plans more action against Newberg school board for Pride, BLM flag ban

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