A pee-wee football team in Illinois followed the example of NFL stars in support of a local man killed in a police-involved shooting by kneeling during the national anthem — and, apparently, the protests of these kids offended some news anchors.
According to CNN, former police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black driver in St. Louis. Many people were angered by and disappointed by the decision. Stockley’s acquittal led to protests erupting in the city, ones that started peaceful but later grew violent. In support with the protests, the team of third graders from the Cahokia Quarterback Club Football team from in Belleville, Illinois took a took a knee while the national anthem was playing before their Sunday afternoon game, Upworthy reports.
Their actions were viewed pretty negatively by conservative media outlets. Fox & Friends went as far as to call these third graders as “shameful.”
“These 8-year-olds don’t know what they’re doing,” a host said. Another host, Rachel Campos-Duffy, said that the players were “following the lead of their parents.”
“This is a very political statement that they have no idea what they’re doing,” Campos-Duffy said. (Though standing for the anthem can most certainly be considered a “political statement” on its own.)
Orlando “Doc” Gooden, the kids’ coach, told WILX 10 (a local NBC affiliate) that the kids came to him following the protests and asked if they could also kneel in support. He said that, after getting permission from the kids’ parents and the team, he approached the demonstration as a teachable moment for his charges — who also wanted to understand why football stars like Colin Kaepernick (and many others) were kneeling at their games and showed a great deal of empathy for victims of police brutality.
“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,'” Gooden told WILX 10. “As long as I have support of my parents and team, I’m perfectly fine and I’m covered under the 1st amendent to peacefully protest and assemble.”
IMO, expressing your opinions and feelings isn’t a sign of “disrespect” and you can definitely love your country and be patriotic while still recognizing its weaknesses— luckily, you can do those things regardless of how old you are.