SEATTLE, WA (WCMH/KIRO) — Colin Kaepernick’s social injustice protest has spread to high school football teams.
Every player of the Garfield High School football team and its coaching staff took a knee during the national anthem Friday night.
Garfield High’s head coach Joey Thomas told KIRO that some of his players have experience with police brutality and racial profiling while also dealing with racial pressures at school. Thomas said they made the decision together after discussions about the injustices they see throughout the country.
“If these kids can be courageous enough to do this as kids, and we’re leading by example, what impact can you have?” Thomas said when asked about criticism that this protest movement was disrespectful to the flag. “We respect people in the armed forces, the Army, the Navy. This is not a disrespectful movement, and I think that’s kind of a smokescreen not to deal with the issues.”
Others weren’t convinced the players understood the sentiment behind the protest.
“I don’t know if they really understand why they’re doing it,” said Donna Veenhuizen, a parent at the game. “I feel that they’re just emulating the professional players they’ve seen do it.”
A handful of players on Garfield High’s opposing team knelt as well. West Seattle assistant coach Jeff Ursino says there was no peer pressure one way or the other for his players.
“Some of us choose to stand for the same idea that would cause them to kneel,” he said. “And we respect that their expression might look different than some of our expression. But in the end, we all share that same goal.”
Kelsey Lenzi, the student who sang the national anthem, didn’t mind that others kneeled.
“As long as people are listening, and they know what I’m singing about, like that’s all that matters,” she said.