Four Michigan high school football players recently learned that, at their school, certain peaceful protests won’t be tolerated.
Michael Lynn III, Matthew Abdullah, Kabbash Richards and Roje Williams, who play for Lansing Catholic high school in Lansing, Mich., have been benched for the school’s game Friday after they said they planned to kneel during the national anthem, Lansing State Journal’s Brian Calloway reported Thursday. The team’s coach informed the players of the school’s decision Thursday.
“I get they are a private school and they can do what they want,” Lynn, the Cougars’ starting quarterback and one of three captains, said, per the State Journal. “They are right, they can. But that doesn’t make it humane and that does not make it OK that they can do that because that still is my right to peaceful protest. Not only am I peaceful protesting, but I’m protesting as a primary source. I am a young black man in America. I’ve had to deal with certain things that other people will never have to deal with.
“I said this in the meeting (with the school). I said this feels like oppression. This feels like you?re trying to silence me and it feels like you’re not giving me the right to do what Americans should be able to do.”
Lynn reportedly approached the school last week about kneeling during the anthem. The school initially supported his position, but ultimately asked him not do it. The following Monday, Lynn, his coach and Lansing Catholic’s athletic director agreed the players could kneel.
The school, which reportedly is predominantly white, didn’t honor the agreement.
“After much prayer and reflection; in consultation with our Board of Trustees, with the Superintendent of the Diocese, with administrators at other Catholic schools, and with law enforcement, we will continue to hold our student-athletes to the expectation that they stand for our national anthem,” Lansing Catholic president Tom Maloney said in a letter sent to parents Thursday.
“Any student-athlete who chooses not to stand will receive consequences. As always, this will be handled with Christian charity, with the goal of growth in virtue.”
Maloney added: “This sort of display could create an unsafe situation for any student involved.”
This news comes amid a recent increase in attention paid to NFL players protesting before, during or after the pregame playing of the national anthem. In September, President Donald Trump referred to such players as “sons of bitches,” and said their respective teams should “fire” them.
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