Before Nebraska’s game at Northwestern on Saturday night, three Huskers players took a knee during the national anthem: senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, redshirt freshman linebacker Mohamed Barry and redshirt freshman defensive lineman DaiShon Neal.
Since then, Rose-Ivey said Monday they have received blowback, including many racist comments, from people on social media. When he saw what was being said to him during the team bus ride to the airport after Nebraska’s win, Rose-Ivey said the reaction “crushed” him.
“Some believe DaiShon, Mohamed and myself should be kicked off the team or suspended, while some said we deserved to be lynched or shot like the other black people who have died recently,” Rose-Ivey said. “Another believed that since we didn’t want to stand for the anthem that we should be hung before the anthem at the next game.”
He addressed his decision to protest, which was made in solidarity with athletes across the country in response to instances of police brutality against people of color and other systemic racial injustices, with an impassioned prepared statement on Monday.
Rose-Ivey also made sure to make it clear he was not presenting an anti-police or anti-military stance.
“We did it understanding the implications of these actions,” Rose-Ivey said. “But what we didn’t expect was the enormous amount of hateful, racially-motivated comments from friends, peer, fans, members of the media and others about the method of protest. While you may disagree with the method, these reactions further underscore the need for this protest and gives us just a small glimpse into the persistent problem of racism in this country and the divisive attitude of some Americans.
“To make it clear, I am not anti-police, I am not anti-military, nor am I anti-American. I love my country deeply, and I appreciate the freedom that it professes to afford me.”
Via the Omaha World-Herald, you can hear Rose-Ivey’s statement in its entirety, plus his responses to questions from reporters at a Monday press conference.
Rose-Ivey also posted his comments to Twitter:
Rose-Ivey told reporters he told Huskers coach Mike Riley on Friday night that he wanted to address the team about his planned protest. He was able to do so on Saturday morning. Senior defensive tackle Kevin Maurice told the Lincoln Journal Star Rose-Ivey’s message was received “very well.”
“We respect Mike and we respect his decision. We respect everything he did to really shine light on what’s going on. He spoke to us and it was a passionate speech,” Maurice said.
“He’s kind of one of those guys that really feels passionate about the topic. You can see that with the way he responds on social media and the way he just talks. So that’s something that’s really important to him.”
Riley told reporters after Saturday’s game that he supported his players.
“This is obviously a choice that they have made for personal reasons. And that’s the beautiful thing about the United States that they can do that,” Riley said.
Players from two other Big Ten schools — Michigan and Michigan State — raised their right fists in the air in protest during the national anthem before their respective games earlier on Saturday.
These protests began when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted not to stand during the anthem, first during the preseason.
For more Nebraska news, visit HuskerOnline.com.
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