Three Pass High football players took a knee Friday night as the “Star Spangled Banner” played before the Pirates took to the field to play Bay High at Tank Williams Field.
Journalist Stacey Cato is covering the game and shared photos of the players on Twitter.
Cato, lead reporter at the Gazebo Gazette and reporter for Sea Coast Echo, tweeted that all Bay High players stood for the national anthem.
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Soon after Cato posted photos of the silent protest on social media, the photos began circulating locally, and a commenter on Facebook used a racial slur toward the players.
Pass Christian High released a statement about the protest before the game ended Friday night.
Officials said on Twitter that they met with players and coaches before the game and requested that all players stand. Three players chose to kneel.
The students have a constitutional right to peacefully protest, the school said, although officials said they felt a football game is not the appropriate place for such action.
The school encouraged parents to “talk with their children about all that the protest represents and what our flag means to find more productive measures” for voicing opinions, such as “understanding the importance of voting and truthful dialogue with others.”
Football players taking a knee as a silent protest to oppression was popularized by former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who began sitting during the national anthem in August 2016.
On Sept. 1, 2016, Kaepernick began to kneel.
“I’m going to continue to stand with people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick told the media two days after an Aug. 26, 2016, football game, SB Nation reported. “When there’s significant change and I feel the flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
More than 200 NFL players chose not to stand during the national anthem ahead of Sunday’s football matchups, and South Mississippians had a lot to say about it, especially after several New Orleans Saints players took a knee before their game against the Carolina Panthers.
Some South Mississippi public officials criticized the players for kneeling, and many Coastians took to social media to share their views on the situation.
The kneeling was also, in part, due to comments made from President Donald Trump about sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. Trump called for the NFL to fire players who chose to kneel.
Drew Brees made a public statement after Sunday’s game, saying that he did not agree with President Trump or with kneeling for the national anthem.
On Sunday, the Saints will kneel before the national anthem but then stand during it before their game in London, The New Orleans Advocate reported.
It’s not clear how visitors at Tank Williams Field responded to the three players who took a knee.