Riverhawks supportive of kneeling NFL players


Photo by Brandon Hamilton

Women’s Soccer teammates stand with their coach for the national anthem before a game.

Vincent Moreland and Sarah Noble

AACC students said in October they support athletes who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality or show solidarity with each other.

In an informal Campus Current survey of 50 students, 35 said they were in favor of the protest by some professional football players who kneel during the anthem at games.

Normally, athletes stand with their hands over their hearts during the playing of the national anthem.

But several players from every NFL team that played on Sept. 24 either knelt, locked arms with teammates or other staff members, continued stretching instead of standing at attention or stayed inside while the anthem played.

For many AACC athletes, “kneeling isn’t an issue at all,” Imani Robinson, who will play forward for

Women’s Basketball in spring, said. “People are standing up for what they believe in and they have every right to.”

Jasmine Elkhoga, a first-year political science major, called the NFL players’ protest an “ingenious act.

“They provoked a huge upset amongst American viewers, including the president of the United States,” she said.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Sept. 22 that players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now? Out. He’s fired,’” the tweet read.

In a separate informal survey conducted by Dr. Daniel Nataf for AACC’s Center for the Study of Local Issues, 80 percent of the 45 students polled said they oppose NFL owners firing players.

“[Trump is] clearly not supporting the right to peaceful protest or freedom of speech,” Rene Anderson, a second-year psychology major, said.

Fifteen students in the Campus Current poll said the players are showing disrespect when they kneel during the anthem.

“It’s sad to see so many people disrespecting our fallen soldiers,” second-year student Michael Reeder said. “I’m standing tall and showing them my respect.”

“People have died or been dismembered in war, and you think it’s acceptable to kneel for the national anthem?” agreed Jason Sheets, a second-year law enforcement and criminal science major.

But first-year student Malcolm Diggs said respect for the military is not at issue in the protest.

“The military don’t go to war to fight for the national anthem,” Diggs said. “They go to fight for our rights, which includes being able to kneel for the anthem. I would take a knee.”

Women’s Basketball head coach Lionell Makell said while no one on the AACC athletic teams has knelt during the anthem, his players are allowed to kneel.

But he said he doesn’t want his players to kneel to “just be a follower of the cause, but to be a leader. … They need to know the cause.”

Men’s Basketball player Lamar Curtis said he will continue to stand for the anthem during AACC games out of respect for the military.

Women’s Basketball forward and guard Autumn Foster-Fields said she doesn’t feel strongly about the issue.

“It’s their opinion on what’s going on,” Foster-Fields said. “But I would support [my teammates].”