Hopefully the children in Illinois, who exercised their constitutional right to protest, are not facing similar backlash as a group of young Texas athletes experienced.
Every player on the Cahokia Quarterback Club football team—each of them 8 years old—kneeled on the football field in Belleville Sunday when the national anthem started, KTVI-TV reports.
Coach Orlando Gooden told the Fox News affiliate that he saw “a good teaching moment” when one of the kids on his team mentioned the ongoing protest in St. Louis over the acquittal of a White police officer, Jason Stockley, who fatally shot a Black man, Anthony Lamar Smith.
Gooden said he asked his players if they understood why people were protesting. They responded, “Because Black people are getting killed and nobody’s going to jail,” he told the news outlet.
The coach huddled his team to talk about what’s going on across the nation and about kneeling during the national anthem, a demonstration against racist police brutality started by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“One of the kids asked, ‘Can we do that?’ I said, ‘As long as we know why we’re doing it, I don’t have a problem with any of it,’” he recalled, noting that all the parents supported the decision.
KTVI said Gooden’s wife received backlash on social media over her Facebook post about the demonstration. It could be the first salvo in a barrage of hate from people who view this type of demonstration as disrespectful.
That’s what happened last year when the Beaumont Bulls, an 11- and 12-year-old football team, exercised their right to protest police brutality.
According to Bleacher Report, the team’s head coach was suspended for the demonstration, and people threatened the children’s and coaches’ lives.