Will more teams take a knee? This NJ high school honored cops, instead
TRENTON — Will more high school and college players take a knee during games this weekend in New Jersey?
Brandon Lowe, spokesman for the Camden Public Schools, said Woodrow Wilson High School head football coach Preston Brown expected to take a knee before Saturday afternoon's game against Northern Burlington. Extra security will in place, according to Lowe.
Brown, 31, sparked public outcry after taking a knee during last week's game. Players followed his example. The quiet act of protest garnered attention amid the controversy generated by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem played before NFL games.
Brown, a graduate of Woodrow Wilson, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I still love America. I still love our military. But this was our way of saying that things have to change in our country. There’s oppression, there’s social injustice, and these kids live it.”
As the debate goes on about taking a knee during the national anthem at the high school and pro level, one New Jersey high school has taken a different stand.
Wayne Valley High School co-captain carried a "thin blue flag" onto the field during their home opener against Lakeland High School and dedicated the game to law enforcement.
The gesture was a collaborative effort in honor of the 15th anniversary of 9/11, according to Superintendent Dr. Mark Toback. The team's boosters, cheerleaders, players and parents wanted to recognize the ways police officers protected their community on 9/11. Toback said they felt that recognizing law enforcement agencies now "was an important thing to do."
"Police officers are in a business where they get very little appreciation for what they do," Toback said. "People do not understand the dangers they face and the challenges they face as police officers. For a group of students and parents to come forward and recognize them I am sure was greatly appreciated by the police department."
Wayne Police spokesman Laurence W. Martin applauded the school and students.
"These positive activities serve to bridge the gap between today's youth and law enforcement," he said. "Our School Resource Officers coupled with the positive interactions that our officers project through involvement with various youth activities helps provide for a healthy environment in our community."
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The protests don't appear to have inspired players on the college level in the state.
Rutgers is home against New Mexico on Saturday and if a Scarlet Knight takes a knee it would be a first.
"Rutgers has not had any players take a knee this season," spokesman Hasim Phillips said in a statement.
Rider spokeswoman Kristine Brown said no Bronc in any fall sport so far has taken a knee. She said there is not a school policy against it and "we respect our student athletes and students' individual beliefs on how they want to express themselves over that issue."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.