Says It's Part Of Her History; Mom Vows To Sue On First Amendment Violation

EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been suspended for wearing a sweatshirt with a Confederate flag on it.

Many see it as a symbol of hate and racism, but this teenager claims its part of her heritage, reports CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

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Torri Albrecht said Monday when she showed up to her middle school wearing a sweatshirt with the confederate flag. She said her vice principal gave her a choice:

“He said I had to take off the sweatshirt or flip it inside out or face the consequences,” Albrecht said.

But the eighth grader, who was born in Virginia and lived there just a year, said she refused to take it off.

“It shows I am from the South. I am proud of where I came from and it shows my heritage,” Albrecht said.

The teenager’s mother, who took a picture at the Kreps Middle School, said her daughter was suspended for not changing into something else — a violation, she said, of her First Amendment rights.

“The Indian kids get to wear turbans. The Jewish children can wear yarmulkes. That’s their birth right, their heritage. It’s my daughter’s heritage,” said Jane West, Albrecht’s mother.

An assistant superintendent said Albrecht was not suspended for the sweatshirt but for a confidentiality policy they can’t discuss.

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“When I got the suspension slip it said she was disrespectful when asked to remove her sweatshirt,” West said.

Albrecht’s bed is covered with her dad’s Confederate flag. He died two years ago. And it’s on the computer screen she used to buy her sweatshirt online.

However, Albrecht did admit she doesn’t know the history behind this flag, viewed by many as a racially-charged symbol.

“I don’t pay attention to that I don’t know,” Albrecht said.

However, the teenager, who said she’s receiving death threats, insisted, “Everyone who wears it isn’t racist.”

Some people in her town disagree.

“It’s a negative connotation. All she’s doing is hurting other peoples’ feelings,” resident Ken Flent told Sloan.

Albrecht said she wants to be transferred to a new school district and want to wear her sweatshirt there. Albrecht’s mother said she plans on suing her current school district.

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Do you think it’s alright to wear the Confederate flag to school? Was the reported reaction appropriate? Sound off in our comments section.