After deciding as a team to take a knee before a football game Sept. 11, a youth football team in Beaumont, Texas, is now receiving death threats.
Following the example of the San Francisco 76ers’ Colin Kaepernick, the Beaumont Bulls took their helmets off, knelt down and placed their hands on one another’s shoulders.
Coach Rah-Rah Barber told the Beaumont Enterprise that the team wanted to protest “the injustice that goes on in our society for minorities.”
The decision was approved by the players’ parents and the executive board of the Bulls. A video of the team taking a knee has gained more than 280,000 views. Kaepernick retweeted a picture of the team kneeling. Many stood in support of the team. But for all of the positive feedback, there were negative reactions, too.
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Coach Barber said that he has received both positive and negative feedback from across the country. The negative responses included ones that suggested he be fired or even hanged.
Tre Martin, a former Bulls coach, told KHOU that he was disappointed in the team.
“I was just disgusted by the whole thing. You know, the only reason those boys get to play football and we have a country like we do is because of our veterans and our flag and what it represents,” Martin said.
Martin said that most of the kids probably don’t know what they are doing or why they are kneeling.
Jaelun Parkerson, an 11-year-old Bulls player, disagreed.
“Even though we’re kids, we can still get the information and know about the stuff that’s going on,” Jaelun said.
Jaelun’s mother, April Parkerson, told KTRK-TV that she and her family “know racism well.” She said that the team has been called the n-word by opposing teams before.
Parkerson also said that the team has received support, but also death threats: “We have someone who commented ‘kill them all’ in response to someone who was showing support for our organization.” She told the news site that she has not reported the threats to police yet, but she will if she feels there is an immediate threat to her family.
Jaelun said the comments make him “sad and scared.”
The Bulls’ executive board sent a statement to KTRK-TV that read in part:
It is our hope and desire to cultivate young men that will be leaders in our communities that will make a difference in this world and though their stance was not seen by all as a sign of progress, we believe it was and we will continue to support them.
Jaelun’s mother said that even with the death threats, the team will not back down. Her son described the lesson he'd like other people to learn from his protest: "That everybody is the same deep down."