Four Lansing Catholic high school students from Lansing, Michigan have been benched for Friday's game after they said they planned to kneel before the national anthem, reports Brian Calloway of the Lansing State Journal.
Michael Lynn III, the team's captain and starting quarterback, was among the four players informed by their coach that they would not play. Lynn III approached the school last week about peacefully protesting, with the school supportive but asking him not to kneel in last week's away game. Lynn III told the State Journal that the school had initially agreed to let some players kneel this Friday before the players were told they wouldn't play.
"I get they are a private school and they can do what they want," Lynn III told 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."
The school's president sent out a letter saying any student athlete who decides to take a knee during a national anthem would "receive consequences."
“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,” the letter read, according to the Lansing State Journal. “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.”
The letter also claimed that a demonstration during the anthem "could create an unsafe situation for any student involved."
Last year, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, with several other NFL players eventually joining him, as well as numerous other athletes across America. The protests grew this season after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who chose to follow suit. Trump said owners should "fire" NFL players who protest the anthem and referred to them as "son[s] of b------". Players responded by protesting en masse.