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Star wrestler loses scholarship after making anti-gay slur during protest

Posted at 8:26 AM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 10:26:15-04

A star wrestler in California lost his college scholarship after video posted to social media showed him using an anti-gay slur at political rally last month, CBS Sacramento reports. 

Bronson Harmon, an 18-year-old who was set to attend California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, was caught in a brief video showing his middle finger to the camera and yelling a homophobic remark during the "Keep Families Together" rally in Modesto. Harmon, also seen in the video holding a "Donald Trump 2016" sign, was apparently part of a counter-protest to the rally on June 30. 

The 21-second exchange has since been viewed more than 45,000 times on Facebook.

That moment is followed by a separate heated exchange also caught on cellphone video, recorded by immigrant-rights protester Yesi Moreno, according to CBS Sacramento.

"I wanted to know who these guys were and hours later I did and, fortunately enough, enough people shared it," Moreno told the station.

Harmon was a star wrestler at Oakdale High School in California and a medalist in the state’s high school wrestling finals, according to a November press release from Cal Poly.

Harmon’s father, Todd Harmon, was at the protest with his son. He is also apparently heard on the video yelling, "Send their a**es back!" as he walks down the street.

Todd Harmon told CBS Sacramento that since the videos were posted Cal Poly has revoked his son’s scholarship, and the family is devastated. Todd said his family has hired an attorney and is considering filing a lawsuit claiming violation of First Amendment rights.

"Bronson Harmon will not be a member of Cal Poly’s wrestling team but we cannot comment on any details regarding his status as a student because of federal and state privacy laws," Cal Poly San Luis Obispo communications specialist Cynthia Lambert told CBS Sacramento in a statement.

Besides the heated exchanges during the protest, the cellphone video also shows police on scene after a physical confrontation.

Modesto Police confirmed to CBS Sacramento they have recommended a misdemeanor battery charge be filed against Harmon for allegedly shoving a man into a tree after the protest had ended.

"I totally regret it [the slur]," Harmon told the San Luis Obispo Tribune. "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."

Despite losing his scholarship, Harmon is still planning on attending Cal Poly this year, CBS Sacramento reports. He told the Tribune he plans to instead focus his energy on becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. 

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