A Black teen athlete from Ohio who made the brave decision to take a knee during the national anthem at a recent high school football game is now being targeted with racist messages.
Brunswick High school football player Rodney Axson Jr. says he kneeled during the Star Spangled Banner after hearing some of his white teammates user racial slurs while discussing the predominantly Black rival team they were facing on Sept. 2.
Since making the choice to take a stand through the gesture, 16-year-old Axson says he's been receiving threatening messages with racially offensive undertones, in addition to his teammates distancing themselves from him.
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One message even included a reference to lynching, according to the Cleveland NAACP chapter.
The NAACP has since begun investigating the messages to determine who is responsible and hold them accountable.
"The NAACP and the family fully expect these threats and social media messages to be taken seriously and treated as hate speech," the organization said in a statement.
"This type of language is reminiscent of a time that we hope that this country has moved beyond."
A lawyer for two students believed to have been the senders of some of the messages says they've admitted to their part in it all and are currently awaiting disciplinary action.