A coach kicked a two Texan high school football players off of the team after the players protested during the national anthem Friday.
Senior Larry McCullough knelt and sophomore Cedric Ingram-Lewis put his fist up in the air during the national anthem before Victory & Praise Christian Academy’s football game, reported the Houston Chronicle. Ronnie Mitchem, the team’s coach and pastor, kicked them off the team directly afterwards.
“I don’t have any problem with those young men,” Mitchem told the Chronicle. “We’ve had a good relationship. They chose to do that and they had to pay for the consequences.”
Mitchem, a former Marine, had previously told the school’s players that he did not want them to kneel during the anthem, believing that the action offends veterans and distracts rather than calls attention to issues. The coach said he wanted the players to express their discontent by authoring and distributing a paper about political issues that troubled them, or by kneeling in the end zone after a touchdown.
“He told us that disrespect will not be tolerated,” said Ingram-Lewis, one of the booted players. “He told us to take off our uniform and leave it there.”
Rhonda Brady, Ingram-Lewis’ mother, was angry with the coach’s reaction.
“I don’t want them back on the team,” said Brady. “A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn’t have done anything like that….For [the coach] to do what he did, that really spoke volumes and I don’t want my kids or my nephew to be around a man with no integrity.”
The coach’s actions come about a week after President Donald Trump’s reactionary tweets caused widespread protests in the NFL.
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