Former Cal Poly wrestling recruit caught yelling homophobic slur at rally
Cal Poly has rescinded the wrestling scholarship of Bronson Harmon, a former Oakdale High wrestler who signed a National Letter of Intent with the school in November, Cal Poly Athletic Director Don Oberhelman confirmed Tuesday.
Oberhelman did not comment on the reason Harmon’s scholarship was revoked, but the move came just three days after video surfaced of Harmon yelling a homophobic slur and directing an obscene gesture at a participant of the Families Belong Together March in Modesto on June 30. After that moment was captured on video, Harmon was allegedly involved in an incident that led to a formal complaint being filed with the Modesto Police Department, according to spokeswoman Sharon Bear.
Harmon, a recent graduate of Oakdale High School and CIF State Meet medalist, can be seen in one video obtained by The Tribune walking with his father Todd Harmon and a friend down a Modesto street carrying a sign that reads “Donald Trump 2016”.
As Harmon notices he is being recorded, he shows his middle finger to the person recording and says “Fu** you fa**ot.”
Earlier in the video, Todd Harmon can be heard yelling “Send them back!” as he walks down the street.
Oberhelman said Cal Poly was aware of the video before the athletic department made its decision to rescind Harmon’s scholarship. As of Tuesday evening, the video has been viewed over 30,000 times on Facebook.
“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 Tribune on Tuesday. “But I still feel like my freedom of speech was taken away and I don’t think my scholarship should have been revoked over something like that.”
Abdul Lasaing, who recorded the video, said he heard the men shouting as they approached so he pulled out his cell phone.
“I not once said anything to these guys I was just walking,” Lasaing told The Tribune on Wednesday. “I’m not sure if I was disrespected for my skin color or my “World Peace” sign. I was shocked.”
Lasaing said he was scared because one of the men, Todd Harmon, was wearing gloves and looked like he was there to fight.
“They scared families with small children which I find very wrong,” Lasaing said. “And all the racist and homophobic slurs were very disrespectful.”
In another video posted to Twitter, Harmon can be heard saying “Take pictures of this! Trump 2020!” as he walks down the street holding the Trump sign. Participants of the march can be heard screaming obscenities in his direction.
“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, his father and his friend left the march, they allegedly became involved in a physical altercation.
According to Harmon, he saw a man placing a screwdriver behind the tire of his father’s truck as they were getting ready to leave. The man, who later filed a complaint with police, said he saw the screwdriver and was trying to pick it up.
Bronson and the others confronted the man and allegedly pushed him, according to the complaint, and the man fell against a tree and scraped his arm. There was a small amount of blood on his arm and clothing, but he refused medical assistance at that time, Bear said. The victim asked to press charges against Harmon, who is 18 years old. Harmon told The Tribune he never touched the man.
The case has been forwarded to the district attorney’s office for review. No charges have been filed and no arrests have been made as of Tuesday.
Harmon compiled a 35-7 record as a junior at Oakdale, claiming fourth place in the state finals at 160 pounds after a first-place finish in the CIF-Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet. He did not wrestle for his school in the last part of his senior season after he had a falling out with the coach over which weight class he would wrestle in.
Harmon said Cal Poly wrestling coach Jon Sioredas saw the video and called on July 2 to inform him his scholarship would be revoked. Sioredas did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
With the wrestling team out of the picture, Harmon said he plans to focus his energy on becoming a Mixed Martial Arts fighter, and as of Tuesday, still plans to attend Cal Poly in the fall.
“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.”
Lasaing said he feels bad that Harmon lost his scholarship but added “I do believe there is consequences for your actions.”
“I hope he gets all the help he needs,” Lasaing said.
This story has been updated with more information