Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas was contacted by Rasool Samir, a former student-athlete at Garden City Community College (GCCC) who was ejected from a GCCC game on November 1 for declining to observe the national anthem. Samir was later dismissed from the basketball team and unenrolled at GCCC.
As a Muslim, Samir chose not to observe the national anthem for religious reasons and had abstained in previous games without incident. On November 1, a booster member in the audience came onto the court and verbally and physically confronted Samir about his abstinence. Samir was then escorted from the court and the booster member was allowed to return to the stands.
The next day, Samir met with his coach, Brady Trenkle, and was informed of his dismissal from the team and given a plane ticket back to his hometown.
GCCC has provided varied accounts of the incident to the media. First, the college claimed that Samir chose to leave the team on his own accord. Later, the college said that Samir was, in fact, dismissed from the team, but for a "violation of team rules" and not due to the national anthem incident.
The ACLU of Kansas is concerned that Samir may have been dismissed from the team due to his failure to participate in the national anthem, which is a violation of his First Amendment rights.
On November 9, Lauren Bonds, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, sent a letter to John Green, Director of Athletics at Garden City Community College, relaying these concerns and requesting clarification of the college's account of the incident and Samir's dismissal from the basketball team.
In response to our letter, an attorney representing GCCC responded that Samir was dismissed for acting disrespectfully towards Coach Trenkle following the incident. He declined to clarify why the college has given varying accounts of the matter to media outlets. The ACLU of Kansas continues to speak with other witnesses to the event.
"ACLU sends letter to GCCC regarding Samir", The Garden City Telegram, 11/16/2017
"Muslim player says he was kicked off Kansas team for shooting baskets during anthem", The Kansas City Star, 11/16/2017
"Student kicked off Kansas community college basketball team in national anthem flap", The Associated Press, 11/16/2017
"Was it the anthem or the attitude? ACLU, school differ on why athlete is off the team", The Wichita Eagle, 11/16/2017
"Philly teen claims he was kicked off basketball team for not observing national anthem", CBS Philly, 11/18/2017