A Texas high school football coach kicked two of his players off the team after they protested during the playing of the National Anthem. The coach, a military veteran, said he warned the boys of the consequences of their protest in advance of the game.
The coach, Ronnie Ray Mitchem, told a reporter from ABC13 in Houston that Victory and Praise Christian Academy has a long-standing rule against kneeling during the anthem. When two of his players, Cedric Ingram-Lewis and Larry McCullough came to him before the game and told him of their plan to protest during the anthem, Mitchem warned them they would be kicked off the team. He told the boys the kneeling protest was offensive to him and other veterans.
“There is a proper time to do something in a proper way,” Mitchem, a Marine Corps veteran told the reporter.
The boys proceeded with their protest while the National Anthem played before the game. Mitchem immediately approached the boys and asked them to remove their uniforms.
Ingram-Lewis told the local ABC affiliate, “That’s just how he feels.”
His mother responded in stronger terms, saying, “He has a slave master mentality. If you were to go back to that when they wanted to tell us this is what you are going to do and this is how you do it. And if we didn’t comply, we were beaten, whooped or even killed.”
She said the coach should not tell the team’s players when they can and cannot protest.
McCullough told the story a little differently to KPRC NBC2 in Houston. “Before every game, we always pray and then say the anthem. At the game, I decided to stay on my knee, rather than say the anthem,” McCullough told the local NBC affiliate.
“I wasn’t trying to disrespect the flag. It was really showing the injustice for black people, all the stuff that’s going on in the NFL, stuff like that, so I feel I need to be a part of it, too,” McCullough explained.
Lewis said, “I pretty much knew how he looked at us when I was holding my fist up and my cousin was kneeling.”
Mitchem made the boys remove their jerseys along the sidelines. He then dismissed them from the team.
Other schools around the Houston area told ABC13 they will not be taking action against any students that take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.
The Houston Independent School District cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette which held that schools cannot force students to participate in patriotic observances. This includes standing for the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance.
On a Facebook post, Coach Michem wrote:
Thanks to all of you for your support. I want to be clear that I don’t have a problem with people protesting if it is done the right way. But to disrespect the flag that gives us the right to protest is the wrong way to do it. I gave the two players other ways to protest that I felt was fair.
I served in the U.S. Marine along side men of different colors and back grounds. My Marine drill instructors told us there was no black or white marine just marine Corp green and we would all fight for our country together. As a Christian We often times have different opinions on scripture but the one common thread to all believers is the blood of Jesus and what he did at the cross for us.
As Americans we have one common thread and that is that men/women of all color have fought and died to give us the right to live free and to get to play football on a Friday night and all the other liberties we have. To disrespect that is not right. I love these two young men and one of them has spent the night at my house and I have taken him to football camps. He and my son are good friends. But I know and most Americans know and understand that if we lose that one common thread the love of country and respect for what we have then it won’t be long before we lose that freedom that we have. Martin Luther King was one of the greatest men to ever live and he always had the American flag in his marches and rallies. He did not hate America he wanted America to be the greatest nation on earth and I do not believe his dream included disrespecting our great nation and those who have died for it.
Black, white, Asian , Hispanic all have come to this great nation and many have died so I could Pastor/coach and play football on Friday night. Though many may disagree with me this is what I believe and as an American I have that right. I pray these young men across America can come to understand there is a right and wrong way to do things. God bless America.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.