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Cheer team’s ‘Trump’ message lands school in hot water

Cheer team’s ‘Trump’ message lands school in hot water


LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas high school is facing criticism after cheerleaders hoisted a banner saying “Make America Great Again” at a football game.

Cheerleaders at Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy unfurled the sign bearing President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan Friday. The sign also said “Trump the Leopards,” referring to the school’s opponent, Malvern High School.

Arkansas lawmakers are among those who have weighed in on the banner.

State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, tweeted on Saturday that the sign is inappropriate because public entities should not be used to “advance our politics.”

Elliott’s tweet had more than 130 likes and several comments Monday morning.

State Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R-Clarksville, said in a tweet Saturday that Elliott should “chill out.” He said the sign was a “play on words” about beating their football opponent.

The “Make America Great Again” slogan, commonly seen on red baseball caps worn by Trump and his supporters, is seen by some as politically and socially divisive.

Members of the Malvern community have joined the online discourse, some saying that Lake Hamilton was racially motivated. The Lake Hamilton High School student body is 79.3 percent white and the Malvern High School student body is 30.8 percent black, according to the Arkansas ADE Data Center.

The Lake Hamilton School District said in written statement Monday that it did not intend to make a political statement or endorsement with the banner. The district is “taking steps” to ensure that “political or controversial issues” are not mentioned in future banners, the statement says. A representative for the district declined to answer further questions, including whether the sign received prior approval from an adult or school official.

The Malvern School District said in a statement that it was unaware of the sign until after the game.

“Lake Hamilton, has since, posted an explanation of regret involving the run-through sign,” the statement says.

“This matter has also been turned over to the Arkansas Athletics Association per their rules and regulations.” .

The Arkansas Activities Association had not immediately responded to a request for comment Monday.

A high school cheerleading team in North Carolina was recently put on probation after they posed for a photo with a “Trump 2020: Make America Great Again” flag during a football game.

Their district policy prohibits political ads at school events, according to a statement made by the high school.

Trump won 60.5 percent of the popular vote in Arkansas in 2016.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An MS-13 member who is in the country illegally has been accused of kidnapping a Tennessee high school student and beating him because he allegedly refused to join the violent gang.

Franklin Pineda-Caceres, an 18-year-old Honduran national, was arrested over the weekend after being involved in a car wreck in Nashville, according to reports Tuesday.

Officers said they found a substantial amount of cocaine in his vehicle.

Tennessee federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged Pineda-Caceres with illegal reentry. He had been deported in May 2018 after being charged with drug crimes, authorities said. He had first entered the U.S. illegally in 2014.

Pineda-Caceres’ accuser was a student at Glencliff High School, Fox 17 Nashville reported. Court documents say Pineda-Caceres pressured the student to join the notorious gang in January, according to the station.

When the student refused to become an MS-13 member, Pineda-Caceres and two other individuals forced him into a vehicle and then beat him, the station reported.

Police began investigating the case in April and tried to apprehend Pineda-Caceres in July.

He was able to get away then in a Chevrolet Camaro, driving through the front yard to avoid police vehicles and nearly striking his girlfriend, her mother, and his infant son. He abandoned the vehicle after evading police.

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