The football season hasn’t started yet, but the controversy is already taking control of the Indiana prep football scene, thanks to a photo that was snapped during an on campus state police community session.
As reported by our Gannett brethren at the Indianapolis Star, the seniors on the Plainfield varsity football team took the team photo you see above during an Indiana State Police outreach program that was held at the school. Standing atop a military Hummer, the seniors were captured wielding bean bag launchers and tear gas guns, tools of the riot control trade that are synonymous with aggressive police response to widespread civil disobedience.
There were clear concerns on the part of team parents and school officials, who expressed disappointment that coaches and others connected with the team allowed the impromptu photo shoot to move forward. While a state police captain confirmed that the weapons were rendered safe by an officer who remained near throughout the shoot, Hendricks County School District officials insist that’s hardly the most significant point.
“We take very seriously the district’s policy regarding any weapon on school property. Our office was not made aware of this photo op ahead of time, nor had we approved it,” Plainfield Community Schools Superintendent Scott Olinger said in a statement. “We highly respect the State Police and the work they do. However, since this was an event that involved crowd control devices, it needed to be vetted by our staff through our offices. As a result, the district is clarifying its policy to all staff regarding prior approval for any activity on school property.”
Olinger insisted that the photo would not be used in any school or team publications, but it’s already reached a far greater audience than that. Now players can only hope they don’t end up in the same boat (or tank?) as the 1998 Federal Way hoops squad in Washington.