Home > Uncategorized > In Taking a Knee the Beaumont Bulls Get Death Threats, Racial Slurs, and….Kicked Out of League

In Taking a Knee the Beaumont Bulls Get Death Threats, Racial Slurs, and….Kicked Out of League

In yet another case of children leading the way in seeking racial justice, the NY Daily News’ Shaun King reports on an incident in Beaumont TX that has a chilling effect on the First Amendment, a chilling effect on young athletes across the country who want to display their solidarity in seeking racial justice, and a chilling effect on the coaches and parents who want to support their children in giving voice to their concert about the treatment of black Americans. King describes the incident in Beaumont in these paragraphs:

(W)hen the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided during the NFL preseason to not stand for national anthem, it didn’t take long for the echoes to be heard in Beaumont. Students, coaches, and parents there not only follow the league closely, but feel like the plight of injustice in America is their own. Police brutality, wrongful arrests and racial violence plague black folk in Texas and Louisiana. Within days of Kaepernick staging his protest, the coaching staff of the Beaumont Bulls, led by head coach Rah-Rah Barber, privately discussed the possibility them taking a knee before their next game, before ultimately deciding against it. The coaches didn’t want to impose anything on the players. To their surprise, though, the young boys came to them and told them they wanted to take a knee. The shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police just two months prior had not only shaken Kaepernick and the Beaumont Bulls coaching staff, they deeply bothered the young students as well.

So, on Sept. 10, after getting permission from league officials, the staff and students of the Beaumont Bulls football team took a knee before their game. They won 27-0 and garnered national attention for their demonstration. Within 24 hours, the kids and their families began receiving death threats and racist taunts both online and off. The executive board of the team and the league issued strong statements of support backing the boys, but within a few days it all began eroding.

With very little explanation, in spite of the previous support, the Beaumont Bulls students, staff, and parents were told by their executive board not to take a knee in their following game on Sept. 17, but they defied the request and did it anyway. Again, they won their game, and the team was unified, but the bottom was about to fall out. The boys were scheduled to have a bye the following week. During that time, the executive board made a decision that shocked the whole league. They suspended Coach Rah-Rah Barber, who was not only a great coach, but a mentor and hero to many of the boys, for the rest of the season.

The suspension was based on dubious charges and after much soul searching Coach Barber’s assistant resigned and the team, in protest, refused to attend the next practice and indicated they would NOT practice until their beloved coach was reinstated. The league’s response to this?

Determined to play a game of chicken with these young boys, the executive board decided that instead of reinstating the coaches and allowing the protests, they’d simply cancel the rest of the season — and that’s exactly what they did, the parents say. The Beaumont Bulls, in spite of paying fees for a full season, and being in the league playoff race, had the rug pulled out from under them. No sports team in the country has faced this much opposition in response to Star Spangled Banner protests.

King rightfully declared that the children in this case were exemplary and the league was shameful. This athletic program was not affiliated with public schools, but it reflects the attitude of public institutions toward political protests, and it is an attitude that I find troubling. The adults who leveled death threats to the players and taunted them with racial slurs should be punished. Coming down hard on those who make death threats and racial taunts is not an act of “political correctness”, it is an act that is necessary if we are to function as a civil society. By ignoring the misconduct of the adults who engaged in these activities and penalizing the children who silently demonstrated their opposition to “…police brutality, wrongful arrests and racial violence (that) plague black folk” the league is sending a horrible message. Here’s hoping the adults overseeing the league reconsider this decision and reinstate the Beaumont Bulls.

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