A local ESPN radio affiliate plans to “protest the protest” by some East Carolina band members during the national anthem of last week’s game, choosing not to air the Pirates’ upcoming game at all.
Colonial Media and Entertainment, which operates ESPN Fayetteville (100.1 FM), announced its decision in a statement on Tuesday.
“Several members of the band refused to play the National Anthem and others ‘took a knee’ during the performance, with the result that roughly a dozen band members disgraced themselves on the football field this past weekend,” chairman/CEO Jeff Andrulonis said, according to sports anchor Mark Armstrong of ECU’s local ABC affiliate .
“I’m proud of our country and I’m proud of our soldiers...especially our soldiers from Fort Bragg...fighting for our country so I’ve decided that ESPN Fayetteville will ‘protest the protest,’” Andrulonis added. He said that band members should understand that they have freedom of speech, but that they do not have the right to do whatever they want “with no repercussions.”
Nineteen members of ECU’s band chose to kneel and/or not play their instruments both during the anthem and at halftime of the game against Central Florida last weekend, following the lead of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in protesting racial injustice and police brutality in America.
"As an institution of higher learning, East Carolina respects the rights of our students, staff and faculty to express their personal views,” university chancellor Dr. Cecil Staton said in a statement. “That is part of the free exchange of ideas on a university campus. While we acknowledge and understand the disappointment felt by many Pirate fans in response to the events at the beginning of today's football game, we urge all Pirate students, supporters and participants to act with respect for each other's views. Civil discourse is an East Carolina value and part of our ECU creed. We are proud that recent campus conversations on difficult issues have been constructive, meaningful exchanges that helped grow new understanding among our campus community. East Carolina will safeguard the right to free speech, petition and peaceful assembly as assured by the U.S. Constitution."