LAGUNA — As the words penned by Francis Scott Key drifted across the stadium at Cosumnes River College, some of the high schoolers on the field stood tall while others they linked arms with took a stand on their knees.
For their third game of the season, some of the Laguna Creek Cardinals knelt during the national anthem like their professional counterpart 49er Colin Kaepernick – in protest of the killings of African-Americans at the hands of police officers across this country.
Supporters of these players chanted and held up the names of many of those killed in controversial shootings.
Some have fallen out of the headlines, but they want everyone to know they haven’t disappeared from hearts wanting change here.
“I came out today because I just feel like the national anthem isn’t fair to us African-American kids and when our football players … when they kneel … that’s showing respect for what they believe in. We should have a right to express our opinions,” said Laguna Creek senior Kayla Hood.
“Came for the protest … yes. I have a child in the Elk Grove Unified School District and I felt that it was important to support the boys who are out here being brave.” said Kimber Bootay, who’s raising an interracial family as the country battles it’s problems with past and current racial discrimination.
“I feel that I shouldn’t be punished or penalized or discriminated against because I feel the need to express my rights for my fellow African-Americans ’cause they’re being out here killed by police brutality,” said Laguna Creek junior Jasmine Hood, Kayla’s sister.
Anthony Morales’ son isn’t one of those taking a knee during the anthem.
He shared his feelings with FOX40 from the stands.
“Be proud of where you come from … that’s it. and I respect everyone’s freedom of speech,” he said.
While speaking to those watching Laguna Creek battle the Valley Vikings, part of this story became about me, reporter Sonseeahray Tonsall.
Often while everyone else at an event can be present in the moment of an event, those of us covering it have to move around in order to capture the story.
Though I sang the entire anthem and held my hand over my heart when I wasn’t taking pictures of the kneeling football players and cheerleaders for FOX40’s social media platforms, one mother and retired member of the Navy was disturbed by me moving during the Star-Spangled Banner to take those shots.
“You’re walking around. That is more disrespectful … than anything that these kids were doing,” said Delores Roberts.
The staff moderator for Laguna Creek’s Black Student Union jumped in as Roberts spoke.
“We’re just sitting around talking. We need to do something … talking about other things … we need to do something,” said Joyce Brown.
“The kids are saying I’m tired. I’m scared. I have the kids at Laguna Creek high school those kids say they’re scared to death when they get up in the morning to leave out. That’s a shame. As adults … we’re not doing nothing. We’re watching them take a stand. What are we doing?”
Many like Brown said they’d like to see more and different action being taken to improve the climate in the country, but no one seems to know what the right course might be.