Baseball players at a high school in Des Moines, Iowa, took a knee during the national anthem on Monday as protests against police brutality and racism continue across the country over the police killings of African Americans.
According to a local NBC affiliate, the whole baseball team at Roosevelt High School knelt in Principal Park prior to a game on Monday.
The demonstration by the high school team comes as a debate over whether professional athletes should be allowed to kneel during the national anthem to protest police treatment of people of color and racial inequality has reignited nationwide following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody.
Floyd died last month after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest. In footage of the arrest, he can be heard telling the officer he couldn’t breathe as he continued to be pinned to the ground.
In a statement to the local station on Monday, Tracy Johnson, the activities manager for the high school team, said he supports the players’ demonstration.
“It made me feel good because our kids are in it together. We want those kids to be able to express themselves, and it was neat for us to see all of our kids do that,” he said.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the kneeling protests in the NFL during the 2016 season. Though Kaepernick was joined by NFL players and professional athletes in other leagues in the protests, he was often criticized by President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE and other conservatives who argued his demonstrations were unpatriotic.
Kaepernick became a free agent at the end of that season and hasn’t had a job in the league since.
In the years that followed, the NFL announced and then halted a policy that required players to stand for the anthem when on the field amid pressure from conservatives.
However, following backlash for its track record on the matter after it issued a statement last month in response to Floyd’s death, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a video condemning racism and admitting the league was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier.”
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” he said then. “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."
His message did not mention Kaepernick by name, however, and later prompted many on social media to call on Goodell to release a personal apology to the former quarterback.