Official who almost disqualified 12-year-old swimmer for wearing BLM swimsuit banned

Francis Akhalbey February 08, 2022
Leidy Gallona, 12, was almost disqualified from a swimming competition for wearing a Black Lives Matter swimsuit -- Photos via @DuluthNAACP/Twitter

An independent volunteer official who nearly disqualified a 12-year-old swimmer for wearing a Black Lives Matter swimsuit during a Duluth YMCA swim meet has been banned from future events.

According to FOX21, the swimming event was held at the Superior High School on Sunday, and Leidy Gallona was one of the competitors. But during the event, the official summoned the 12-year-old and informed her she could possibly be disqualified for wearing a swimsuit with the “Black Lives Matter” words on it.

The official reportedly claimed the phrase on Leidy’s swimsuit was a political statement and a violation of USA Swimming’s rules, per WDIO. “If you look at the USA swimming website and what they talk about, their race, their anti-racism policy, if you look at the Y, who is open and inclusive and talks about diversity,” Duluth branch NAACP president Classie Dudley said.

“And yet we are hiring officials that treat black women, black girls like this.”

Leidy reportedly made the swimsuit following the police shooting death of Amir Locke. The 22-year-old Black man was killed by Minneapolis police as officers were executing a no-knock warrant at an apartment he was in on February 2. In the wake of the incident, interim MPD Police Chief Amelia Huffman said Locke was not named in the warrant.

“If someone’s sleeping on their couch, of course, like they’re going to act bad because they didn’t know and if you have a weapon with you of course they’re not going to like react bad,” Leidy told FOX21.

And though Leidy was informed she could be disqualified for wearing the swimsuit in question, she told her mother she wanted to compete in it after she asked her what she wanted to do.

“The easy thing to do would’ve been to take the suit off and she chose not to do that,” Leidy’s mother, Sarah Lyons, said. “She chose to stand up for what she thinks is right. It’s a proud mama moment for sure.”

“Black people that are getting killed, their lives matter because they were, their lives were taken from them. So I think it’s respectful to show that I matter, everyone that’s black matters too,” the 12-year-old also said.

Leidy was eventually allowed to compete in the swimsuit after YMCA officials overruled the decision following consultation, WDIO reported. The official was also removed from the competition and banned from future Duluth YMCA-hosted swim meets.

“The Duluth YMCA is saddened that the student, their family, and teammates had to endure this unacceptable behavior….The Duluth Area Family YMCA is committed to being an anti-racist organization and stands with BIPOC communities throughout the Northland and throughout our country,” the YMCA said in a statement.

“We know that Black Lives Matter and we will continue to work to educate ourselves, to stand against inequality, and to strive to be active allies in the ongoing fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Last Edited by:Francis Akhalbey Updated: February 8, 2022


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