In their inability to understand — or care — about the reason athletes across the country are kneeling for the national anthem, the Diocese of Camden has threatened to punish any athlete who protests the song.
A letter sent to parents and students earlier this month states, “Failure to demonstrate appropriate respect will result in suspension from play (2 games) or dismissal from the team for subsequent offenses.” The letter goes on to say that the best way to “deal with the issue” is to help students understand the sacrifices made for faith and country. Further adding, “However, let me be clear. We are not public institutions and free speech in all of its demonstrations, including protests, is not a guaranteed right.”
In an email, Michael Walsh, the Director of Communications for the Diocese, informed parents and students that policy states that school administration has the authority to take action against student who’s action harm the school or its religious mission.
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News of the Diocese of Camden’s decision to ignore the reason people are protesting comes after Mike Oppong, a football player and junior at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, MA, was threatened with suspension for kneeling during the national anthem during his team’s season opener. However, following support from social media, the decision to suspend Oppong was terminated.
The country remains divided over the ongoing national anthem protest, which is quickly growing. As the protest spreads, schools and athletic organizations will have to figure out if peacefully shedding light on systemic racism, police brutality, and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem is punishable or permissible.