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“Take a knee” protest divides community

Miami+Dolphins+Arian+Foster+%2829%29+wide+receiver+Kenny+Stills+%2810%29+and+free+safety+Michael+Thomas+%2831%29+take+a+knee+during+the+national+anthem+before+the+game+against+the+New+England+Patriots+on+Sunday%2C+Sept.+18%2C+2016+at+Gillette+Stadium+in+Foxborough%2C+Mass.
Miami Dolphins Arian Foster (29) wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) and free safety Michael Thomas (31) take a knee during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Miami Dolphins Arian Foster (29) wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) and free safety Michael Thomas (31) take a knee during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS

Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS

Miami Dolphins Arian Foster (29) wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) and free safety Michael Thomas (31) take a knee during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

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Freshman Katelynn Warfel sits next to junior Ty Brackeen in the cafeteria, both intensely focused on the heated argument between them. They constantly interrupt each other, waving their hands in the air as their voices continue to grow louder and louder. The topic of their discussion: taking a knee. Whether it be in the White House or in the halls of JC, the discussion of taking a knee has been widely controversial and dividing.

Some students believe that kneeling should be harshly frowned upon. “It frustrates me because [kneeling] is so disrespectful. I just don’t think that kneeling for the national anthem is the right thing to do for what they’re trying to accomplish,” Warfel said. “They have the right to kneel because of the veterans.”

Others, such as junior Annie Iorio, agree with Warfel. “I think they should definitely be standing. It’s disrespectful to people serving our country because they’re doing it for our freedom.” In a survey conducted by The Patriot, some students echoed this opinion when asked about their feelings on this issue, including words such as “pissed off,” “outraged,” and “disgusted,” in their responses.

One anonymous student also said that NFL players get “paid millions to throw a ball around, but can’t respect soldiers who barely get paid anything.”

I think they should definitely be standing. It’s disrespectful to people serving our country because they’re doing it for our freedom.”

— Junior Annie Iorio

However, students such as Brackeen disagree. “They should have the right to kneel down because this country is biased towards white, high-class people,” he said. “This is a way for them to express their feelings towards the president. There is no point meant to go toward the veterans because we believe in what they do for the country.”

Although this issue is heavily debated, survey respondents anonymously expressed that they prefer to remain neutral on the topic, stating that it is the right of the players to protest under the First Amendment, whether they agree with it or not. Others suggest players “choose another form of protest not involving the flag” in order for their message to be perceived in a “much more positive and open way.”

However, it is possible that this issue is not purely just one on our TV screens. When faced with the theoretical situation of JC players taking a knee during the national anthem, survey responses ranged from “I would stand by them and support their decision” to “I would never attend another sporting event here ever again,” while 67% said that they would be ashamed of JC.

When Athletic Director Steve Teter was asked about the possibility of protests at JC, he brought up the fact that the rights of private schools are different than those of public schools. “Kids have the right to free expression and to protest. However, many times it’s been proven in court that once you enter a school building, you lose some of your rights that you would normally have in everyday life,” he said.

Teter also stated that in this instance, JC would work with student athletes to “figure out if this the best way to go about it” and “work with them to accomplish what they think they’re accomplishing by taking a knee.”

Although the issue is dividing, many students agree on one thing. As an anonymous survey respondent said, “All the hate, on both sides, needs to stop now, or else nothing can save our freedom.”

Caroline Smith is an In-Focus Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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“Take a knee” protest divides community