Two high school football players in Crosby, Texas have been kicked off their team for protesting during the national anthem on Friday.
According to a report from the Houston Chronicle, Victory & Praise Christian Academy coach Ronnie Mitchem kicked sophomore Cedric Ingram-Lewis and senior Larry McCullough off the team moments after the two protested during the playing of the national anthem. Mitchem raised his fist, while McCullough knelt.
According to the Chronicle, Mitchem — a pastor and former Marine — had told his players beforehand he didn’t want to see them protesting during the flag, citing his military service. Instead, he suggested players make their statements by kneeling after touchdowns, or writing and distributing papers about the issue.
“(Mitchem) told us that disrespect will not be tolerated,” Lewis said via the Chronicle. “He told us to take off our uniform and leave it there.”
Mitchem said he will stand by his decision.
“That just doesn’t fly and they knew that,” Mitchem said. “I don’t have any problem with those young men. We’ve had a good relationship. They chose to do that and they had to pay for the consequences.”
Ingram-Lewis and McCullough are following the example set in the NFL, where players and have taken to several forms of protest during the national anthem as a response to President Donald Trump saying anyone who does so should be fired. That, in turn, was started when Colin Kaepernick first began protesting police brutality by kneeling during the anthem during the 2016 preseason.