Seattle’s Garfield High School Bulldogs won’t stand for injustice any longer. Instead, they’ll take a knee.
The football team, in one of the more recent examples of “Kaepernicking”– or kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest against racial injustice, placed their knee pads on the ground as the song played prior to their game against West Seattle High, some of whose players also knelt.
“Everybody wants to talk about how this is disrespectful to the American flag,” Garfield coach Joey Thomas told The Seattle Times. “That’s a smokescreen. How about we talk about the issues people are kneeling and fighting for? If we could start addressing the issues and finding solutions to the issues, we won’t have to kneel.”
Thomas, who led his team to a 52-9 win, says players on his team have dealt with police brutality and racial profiling. He would not allow them to speak publicly in order to protect their identities.
The instructor of a program at Garfield called Project M.I.S.T.E.R., which teaches male responsibility and college preparedness, Thomas gives his students a place where they can discuss social injustices, the Times reported. He said that the kneeling sentiment is part of what he’s teaching in the class, not just solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who continued with the gesture just before the ‘Niners game against the Carolina Panthers.
“You have to talk with kids about the social injustices that are going on because they’re dealing with it regardless,” Thomas said. “Let’s just talk about it. How are you killing these African American males on camera and we can’t even get a day in court…are you kidding me? When is enough, enough? But if you look at history, nothing changes in history until you’re willing to sacrifice.”