ELGIN, Ill. — A suburban school board member is defending comments she made about the American flag in a Facebook post supporting NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.
Traci O’Neal Ellis understood there would consequences for her actions but she felt she couldn’t be silent any longer.
In her post, Ellis equated the American flag with a piece of toilet paper on her personal Facebook page. She knew she would get backlash.
“Why did I post it? Because I’m frustrated deeply frustrated,” she said.
O’Neal Ellis has been a school board member in district U-46 in Elgin for six years. She says she would take a knee at board meetings if it wouldn’t be too disruptive.
Fellow board member Jeanette Ward is offended by their actions and O’Neal Ellis’s comments.
“We tolerate free speech and we tolerate dissent but when you start burning the flag, spitting on the flag, and talk about using it for toilet paper – and we all know what toilet paper is used for – that’s despicable and offensive,” Ward said.
O’Neal Ellis says, for her, it’s not the symbol of the flag but the people behind it that have more meaning. And that this fight is about equality in America. Many on her Facebook page have turned this into a racial issue. She’s being called names and getting death threats.
Ward supports the First Amendment right to free speech. She say O’Neal Ellis went too far.
“I don’t say she can’t say it but it’s despicable and disgraceful that she did.”
A board meeting on Monday at U-46 headquarters is expected to be heated.