Elementary Kids Kneel While Singing National Anthem At Mariners Game

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A spokeswoman for the students' school district defended the students' right to free speech without commenting on the protest's political character.

Two elementary school students kneeled while singing the national anthem at a Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field on Sunday in an apparent protest against police violence and systemic oppression.

A journalist for the Tacoma News Tribune tweeted a picture of the young children from Mount View Elementary School on the field. Two students kneeled, while the others stood.

A spokeswoman for the school district, Highline Public Schools, iterated students’ right to free speech without advocating any opinion on police violence.

“Obviously, the school district respects the First Amendment rights of our students,” Catherine Carbone Rogers said.

She also referred to the protest as an “individual act by the students.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the protests in 2016 to raise awareness about police brutality and systemic racial oppression, retweeted the post of the students kneeling.

Other professional football players and high school student athletes began taking the knee after Kaepernick as criticism of his activism helped expand the political protest into an explosive national debate. Some of the students who chose to kneel or protest in other ways when the anthem was played during football games were subsequently punished.

Protests drew significantly less traction in Major League Baseball. The students’ decision to kneel during the first week of the baseball season emphasizes a debate in a league whose players have been more peripheral to the discussion about police violence than the NFL.

The age of the students also highlights the rising tide of youth activism that has swept the country since the Parkland massacre in February. Whether or not sports viewers agree with the political message of any protest, it seems beneficial to cultivate greater political engagement among the nation’s youth.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Mike Blake

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