Seattle’s Garfield High School football players and staff took a knee in unison during the national anthem Friday.
The Bulldogs faced West Seattle High School on Friday, which had some players kneel during its game last week with approval from administration. Garfield chose to follow suit, kneeling as a team in solidarity before a 52–9 win.
Garfield’s coach says multiple players on his team have dealt with police brutality or racial profiling, according to the Seattle Times.
“Everybody wants to talk about how this is disrespectful to the American flag,” Garfield coach Joey Thomas said. “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 told reporters the decision is in keeping with a program philosophy, not only in unison with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started a national conversation about racial injustice with his decision to begin kneeling for the national anthem during the preseason. Players around the NFL have followed suit, as have those in other sports, including U.S. women’s national soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe.
“You have to talk with kids about the social injustices that are going on because they’re dealing with it regardless,” Thomas added. “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.”