Cal Poly Wrestler Loses Scholarship Over Antigay Slur

homophobic wrestler

Cal Poly has revoked the scholarship of wrestler Bronson Harmon after he was shown using homophobic slurs toward Families Belong Together marchers in a video widely viewed on social media.

The 18-year-old was filmed holding a pro-Donald Trump sign, making an obscene gesture, and yelling “Fuck off, faggot!” at a march in Modesto, Calif., aimed at protesting the Trump administration’s immigration policy that involves separating families at the southern U.S. border.

The video has been viewed over 30,000 times since Abdul Lasaing has posted it on Facebook. Lasaing recounts returning to his car after the march when he heard a group making a loud disturbance, and decided to investigate.

“I heard a group of men shouting and trying to scare us by saying #sendthemback and even yelled at someone nig**!” Lasaing wrote in his Facebook post. “I automatically pulled out my phone to record, and see who was being so disrespectful!”

Later that day, a formal complaint about a related incident involving Harmon was filed with the Modesto Police Department, spokeswoman Sharon Bear told The Tribune, a newspaper in San Luis Obispo, where Cal Poly is located.

Cal Poly athletic director Don Oberhelman declined to comment on the matter but confirmed that Harmon’s scholarship would be revoked and that the university was aware of the incident before the athletic department made its decision.

Harmon objected to the decision. “Saying what I said is definitely not the right thing. I am supposed to be there to help the community be the best person I can be and represent the college the best way I can,” he told The Tribune. “But I still feel like my freedom of speech was taken away, and I don’t think my scholarship should have been revoked over something like that.”

The incident is one of several racially charged and otherwise problematic ones that Cal Poly has dealt with in the past year, including students donning “blackface,” the university hosting alt-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, and the spread of graffiti and fliers containing white supremacist propaganda.

“I totally regret it,” Bronson Harmon said of the slur. “I got caught up in the heat of the moment. I was there to peacefully protest the things that we believe and people were harassing us, spitting on us and calling us Nazis.”

As Harmon and his father -- who was also shown in the video -- left the march, they were allegedly involved in a physical altercation, shoving a man after claiming they saw him putting a screwdriver behind the tire of Harmon’s father’s car. There was a small amount of blood on the man’s arm and clothing after he fell and scraped himself on a tree, the report says. The man asked to press charges against Bronson Harmon, who claims he never touched the man. 

The complaint was forwarded to the local district attorney’s office, but as of Tuesday, no charges had been pressed and no arrests had been made.

After viewing the video, Cal Poly wrestling coach Jon Sioredas called Harmon July 2 to inform him that his scholarship would be revoked, according to Harmon. Harmon has said he aims to point his efforts toward being a mixed martial arts fighter and still plans to attend Cal Poly.

“I got accepted and they said I am welcome still,” Harmon said. “It’s just that they can’t be bringing all this publicity to athletics, so I can’t be involved with athletics.”

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