Bronson Harmon, a star high school athlete, lost his wrestling scholarship at Cal Poly after a viral cell phone video blew up on the Internet of comments that he made at an immigration rally.
Harmon was a star high school wrestler in California who was looking forward to a promising career at the colleagiate level. However, now he’s been accused of using offensive language in the viral video, and the school has revoked his scholarship. Harmon is casting it as a free speech issue, but others are criticizing him. Harmon had signed a letter of intent with the university in November 2017.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Harmon Was Accused of Using a Gay Slur at the Political Rally While Carrying a Pro Trump Sign
You can watch part of the video from the rally in the news story above. You can watch the full video later in this article but be aware that it contains graphic and disturbing language. CBS Sacramento reported that the video allegedly showed Bronson Harmon using a “gay slur “at a political rally. His athletic scholarship to college was revoked after the video was posted on social media, the television station reported.
According to the station, Harmon was a Cal Poly freshman. The conflict occurred at a Keep Families Together immigrant rights rally in Modesto, California that Harmon attended with pro Trump signs. His father, whose name is Todd Harmon, was also at the rally, CBS Sacramento reported. The father told CBS Sacramento that the family was considering suing the university.
SanLuisOpisbo.com alleges that the comment attributed to Bronson Harmon was “Fu** you fa**ot.” The person who yelled “Send their a**es back!” was allegedly Todd Harmon, Bronson’s dad, the newspaper reported. Another now deleted video allegedly showed Harmon yelling “Trump 2020.”
About 800 marchers took to the streets to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in late June.
2. Harmon Was a Star Wrestler in High School Who Was a Two-Time Defending Masters Champion
Bronson Harmon was a star wrestler at Oakdale High School, according to CBS Sacramento. A 2018 news story in the Modesto Bee described Harmon as one of the “top talents” on the Oakdale High wrestling team and described him as “Cal Poly SLO-bound.”
The story reported that Harmon “is a two-time defending Masters champion, CIF State medalist and the second-ranked wrestler in Northern California at 160 pounds.”
However, he also got into some controversy on the team, once tweeting, “How would you feel if you were a 2-time section masters champion and placed 4th at state at wrestling and your coach forcefully kicked you off the team due to the fact that you couldn’t cut 30 pounds to make weight? Not on the oakdale wrestling team anymore due to the coach.” Harmon’s Twitter page is now deleted.
Coach Steve Strange pushed back at that account and “contended the Harmon family hand-picked Bronson’s weight class at the start of the season. He said all parties agreed that 160s gave Bronson the best shot at postseason glory,” the Bee reported.
3. The Man Who Filmed the Video Says He Felt the Men Were Trying to ‘Scare Us’
A man named Abdul Lasaing posted the video on Facebook, along with a lengthy comment (you can view the graphic video by clicking on the image above). In it, Lasaing says that he and a group of people were “already walking back to our vehicles after the #KeepingTheFamilesTogether march; when I heard a group of men shouting and trying to scare us by saying #sendthemback.”
He claimed that he was flipped off and called a f*ggot and that others heard other offensive words being used. However, the only comment being attributed to Bronson Harmon is the gay slur. “I automatically pulled out my phone to record, and see who was being so disrespectful!” Lasaing wrote on Facebook. He concluded, “This Earth needs more love and peace! We all have a different mind set; but we shall all learn how to respect each other. I strongly believe that we need more unity, love and respect for America! God bless my country and all of you!!
Lasaing added: “#Modesto CA held a peaceful march today to #KeepFamiliesTogether and ofcorse; the typical #DonaldTrump hateful supporters had to come out and spread hate? #MakeThemFamous #modestoca”
4. Bronson Harmon Says He Believes His Free Speech Was ‘Taken Away’
In an interview with San Luis Obispo.com, Bronson Harmon tried to cast the situation through the prism of free speech.
“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,” Bronson Harmon told the newspaper.
“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.”
He also claimed that he and his group were called Nazis, telling the newspaper, “I totally regret it. 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.”
However, the Queer Student Union at Cal Poly wrote on Twitter, “We do not feel safe with him here. We do not want him here. We do not need him here.”
Harmon, though, says he plans to still attend the college in the fall and will switch to mixed martial arts.
5. Harmon’s Group Also Got Into Another Altercation at the Protest, Sparking a Police Investigation
The Harmons and a friend “also started a fight with demonstrators, according to police,” Raw Story reported.
According to Raw Story, “Officers said they roughed up a man who picked up a screwdriver near their car, believing he intended to vandalize the vehicle, but the man did not seek medical attention afterward.”
SanLuisObispo.com reported that Harmon says “he saw a man placing a screwdriver behind the tire of his father’s truck as they were getting ready to leave” but the man, who filed a complaint with police, alleged he was just trying to pick up the screwdriver so someone’s tire wouldn’t be damaged.
The university has declined to comment on the scholarship revocation, and didn’t give a reason publicly, but the action came just a few days after the video went viral. Harmon told Modesto Bee that Cal Poly wrestling coach Jon Sioredas called him to say the scholarship was being revoked.