Rocky student encountered “prejudice and racism” on the bus to a football game; bus company and school district respond
A student from the Rock Island High School boys’ football team said a bus driver told him he couldn’t get on the bus because he was carrying a Mexican flag.
Gabriel Albarran and his teammates were about to board a Tri-State Travel bus to their game against Dunlap High School when he said the bus driver told him he couldn’t not embark because of the Mexican flag he was carrying.
It actually happens on Thursday, Mexico’s Independence Day.
Albarran says the driver also told him to return to his country.
Matt Holderman of Local 4 spoke with the student on Friday to get his take on what happened.
“We were just sitting there, and I had my flag on my shoulders, and then the bus driver came out and he said, ‘This flag is going to be a problem here. “”
Albarran says that as he attempted to board the Tri-State Travel bus, wearing his Mexican flag on his way to a football game, the driver told him to get off the bus and return to his country.
“And I was like, ‘Why?’ and he said, ‘This is America. You can’t have that flag here.
But Albarran was not about to withdraw his flag.
“And I said, ‘Okay, that’s good. You can kick me off the bus. I am not removing my flag. I don’t care what you say.
And the Albarran team had their backs.
“Keep my flag up. It’s the same thing they told me; to keep my flag high. Keep it just… not in front of his face, but right there, so, just to show that I’m not going to back down right over a flag.
The whole team have decided that she will also get off the bus after what happened – a gesture that means a lot to Albarran.
“I am grateful to them. I am grateful that people supported me yesterday and that the coaches did not go on the same bus with them.
On Friday, 24 hours after the altercation, Tri-State Travel chairman Andrew Hillard said he and his company were conducting “an internal security investigation” and “treating him (the bus driver) accordingly.”
Albarran says he just wants to see everyone go through life and recognize people as more than just the color of their skin.
“Look more at the person instead of just their race, because race shouldn’t matter,” Albarran said.
The principal of the Rock Island-Milan schools, Dr Reginald Lawrence also spoke about the incident, saying: “Students should not have to endure this kind of prejudice and racism” and “what happened was extremely disappointing and unacceptable”.