The Echo

Athletes take a stand by kneeling down

Players inspired by professional athletes

Sophomore Aliviah McClinton and Seniors Rosa Sigrunardottir, Malaika Bigirindavyi and Olivia Massie kneel during the national anthem prior to their game against Minneapolis Southwest on September 25th. The girls beat Southwest 1-0.

Frustrated and teary-eyed after taking a knee during the national anthem at the girls’ soccer game Monday night, senior foreign exchange student and player Rosa Sigrunardottir said she felt this protest was necessary.

“Coming to America from Iceland and seeing all of the kids here — it’s hard. Everyone should be equal. We’re all just people trying to get through life,” Sigrunardottir said. “Nobody should feel not welcome in this world. Somebody needs to step up and do something.”

Seniors Malaika Bigirindavyi, Olivia Massie and Rosa Sigrunardottir and sophomore Aliviah McClinton knelt on the home turf during the national anthem at the girls’ soccer game against Southwest High School Sept. 25.

This occurred after inspiration from athletes in the NFL, WNBA and MLB who participated in some act of protest during the national anthem.

According to Laura Bigirindavyi, parent of senior player Bigirindavyi, the players exemplified a national issue hitting home.

Pullquote Photo

I took a knee because I don’t stand for a country and a president that doesn’t want to protect black people.”

— Aliviah McClinton

“What is relevant in the injustice that is being protested in the NFL is also present in the high school on many levels,” Bigirindavyi said.

According to senior goalie Olivia Massie, the action expressed a larger issue.

“It’s not a little act,” Massie said. “If we all do this it shows something much bigger than ourselves.”

Although not aware the act would occur, varsity coach Benjy Kent said he supports the players’ intentions to exercise their rights.

“We haven’t talked about it as a team but I think our team and our school (are) supportive of students’ rights,” Kent said.

Sophomore player Aliviah McClinton said she knelt in reaction to issues arising from Trump’s presidency and hopes her action inspires others.

“I took a knee because I don’t stand for a country and a president that doesn’t want to protect black people,” McClinton said. “I hope that it sends (the message that) you don’t have to be afraid to take a stand. Don’t be afraid of the consequences.”

Echo’s Anna duSaire and Alec Pittman also contributed to this story.

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About the Writer
Mimi Fhima, Editor-in-Chief
Hello! My name is Mimi Fhima and I am editor-in-chief of Echo. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, being outside, running and working out, and taking naps. Definitely feel free to stop by the publications room and say hi! 

17 Responses to “Athletes take a stand by kneeling down”

  1. Cindy niemann on September 26th, 2017 5:37 pm

    I will no longer attend a high school sporting event. There are other ways to protest oppression and be respectful to our country. It saddens me a child would disrespect the country and the very people who gave up their lives for these people to act this way. Kneel for the cross and stand up for your country.

  2. Jason on September 27th, 2017 9:58 am

    I totally agree with comment above. There are other ways to protest and this is disrespectful to our great country.. There are many injustices in the world, taking a knee during the anthem is out of line And will not change anything, but will hurt those that fought and died for your freedom!

  3. Ione Hedges on September 30th, 2017 6:24 pm
  4. Donald Trump on October 11th, 2017 8:14 pm

    It is really horrible to see people kneel for the flag. It is disrepected american ideals like freedom, and the soldiers who died defending them.

  5. Laura Moldenhauer on September 27th, 2017 10:33 am

    In response to Cindy Niemann:

    It is your right to choose never to attend another high school sporting event, though I think it is unfortunate and hope you would reconsider. High school sporting events are exciting and heart-warming to watch, as one “cheers on the home team”. But on a deeper level, high school sporting events represent an asset unique to America. They embody much that is great about our country and they offer a glimpse at the hope for our future peace and prosperity. Many of the participants will be our future leaders. And think about how hopeful we can be! They are choosing healthy life styles, choosing commitment to one another, choosing engagement in their school/community over at-risk behaviors. They are choosing to embrace the fundamental concept of team… success is dependent on “we” rather than “me”. They are learning to appreciate and respect others; that every player has a unique set of strengths necessary for the success of the team. They are committing their time and energy for the pure love of the sport; their motivation is not salary nor scholarship. High school sporting events help to unify diverse student bodies and communities under a common identity. For all these reasons, I would hope you would reconsider.

    As for your issue with young adults choosing to take a knee (I specifically refer to them as young adults, rather than children, as most are of age, or nearly of age to serve in the military, to defend your rights and mine); indeed, it is their right to protest. Just as it is your right to choose to regard it as disrespectful. And it is my right to view it as disrespectful to our country’s multitude of religious beliefs, that you suggest all students should kneel at the cross of your particular religion.

    If you take time to listen to what the “taking the knee” is about, you will learn it has nothing to do with the flag, nor the military. And if you read all lyrics to our national anthem, including the third verse that celebrates slavery and the capture of escaped slaves, you might begin to understand that this is indeed a very appropriate time and place – during the national anthem – to protest the mistreatment and injustice experienced by people of color in our country.

  6. Cindy Niemann on September 27th, 2017 5:14 pm

    I called them children because one of the kneelers is my granddaughter. I lover her dearly and hope for a better future for her but am very disappointed in this action. I respect your comments and hope you can respect mine. There are other ways to change oppression and bigotry but disrespecting the flag and what it stands for is not one of them and for that reason, I cannot support a school that allows that behavior.

  7. Ione Hedges on October 1st, 2017 7:03 pm

    Totally agree

  8. Ione Hedges on September 30th, 2017 5:49 pm

    Your loss

  9. Brian Kleve on September 27th, 2017 2:52 pm

    Please refer to the Mn State High School League Behavior Guidelines;

    These players should face the consequences of their actions, just like any player breaking League rules.

  10. Ione Hedges on September 30th, 2017 4:11 pm

    Their not breaking any rules

  11. Brian Tomniczak on September 28th, 2017 9:41 am

    What did the American Flag, or the thousands who gave their lives to insure our freedom do to warrant such disrespect? I grew up short and polish, the butt of many jokes. But I realized that if you look hard enough, everybody has obstacles in life. It’s the motivated people who overcome these issues. Not people who blindly follow ideologies because they are trending!

  12. Nathaniel Archambault on September 29th, 2017 9:02 pm

    I’m a recent grad from SLP and active duty serviceman and I wholesale support these kids doing what they feel is right. They have every right to protest, regardless of how it makes anyone feel. I gave up my rights as a citizen to continue providing these opportunities for further generations, so keep demonstrating. Very proud of our Orioles. Drive on!

  13. Kathleen Goor on September 30th, 2017 12:49 am

    It takes courage to take a stand (or a knee), when one knows the potential firestorm to come. While I would not personally wish to kneel or sit for the flag, or anthem – I fully support another’s right to do so. This is a wonderful country, but when persons have personally felt discriminated against, and systemically discriminated against within the legal system that is supposed to protect them, there’s something very wrong.
    I’ve read so many commentaries on this subject this week, trying to get a broader feel for it. Some have said ‘if only we, as a country, showed so much outrage when a Black person is wrongly killed by a police officer.’ I’ve got many veterans in my family, and have wondered about the military’s opinion on this subject. That investigation showed, almost without exception, that military personnel at the very highest levels believe they have fought/served to protect this right of peaceful protest. Rather that, than forced, phony shows of patriotism, as in North Korea. (My research also revealed – to my surprise – that pro leagues made millions for forcing their players to participate in huge patriotic displays, paid for with our tax dollars. This ‘for-profit patriotism’ was set up by the U.S. Department of Defense, when enlistment numbers were hitting new lows. Leagues then wrote ‘codes of conduct’ for players to comply with, in order to meet the conditions agreed to in order to collect their millions.) One of my favorite comparisons had to do with Rosa Parks: ‘They’re not protesting the flag itself. They’re not protesting the anthem itself. That’s like saying Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation. Parks used the bus to make a point, as the players are using the time during the anthem to do the same. ‘
    As for the Christian component mentioned, I am a Christian. My religion’s bedrock lies in free will. God could have forced us all to be completely, blindly obedient – but in His wisdom, He knew that this sort of obedience is meaningless. The only victory that has meaning is in winning hearts so that those hearts are freely given. That’s true for pretty much everything in life. God is very wise.
    I have a Black husband who came here as a refugee, who is at least as patriotic as I am. He escaped a communist regime, and knows first hand the enormous privilege we have, as citizens of a country that holds freedom of speech so dear that it is a Constitutionally-protected right. He would never, himself, kneel – but has lived through a communist takeover that stripped freedom of speech/expression from the people, and saw the result. Friends accused of anti-government talk taken in the dark of night, whereabouts unknown…until their families received a bill to pay for the bullet used to execute them. So this freedom of speech/expression – it is sacred, in his/our estimation. Even when it is uncomfortable, or not the way we might choose to express dissent. I lived through the Civil Rights movement of the 60s and 70s…even peaceful activists were water cannoned, dogs sic’d on them, jailed, lynched, shot. Some died – in the hands of the police. Some were assassinated – for simply speaking out. Time has a way of adjusting our vision to 20/20, and almost unanimously we now, as a country, acknowledge the wrongs that needed correcting. We can’t always see the whole picture when we are right in the middle of a struggle, with emotions high and raw.
    I’m a total patriotic sap. I fly a flag on our car on voting day. I can be moved to tears by a rendering of ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ I am so grateful to have been born here – a place people all over the world entertain dreams of coming to. But I also enjoy a life free from much worry, as a White person. It’s a privilege I was given at random. No one moves to the other side of the street when they see me coming. I am not targeted by security personnel as a potential shoplifter. I’ve never been followed home by a police officer and asked, as I exit my car in front of my house in our predominantly White neighborhood, ‘What are you doing here?’ – which has happened to my Black husband – right here in St. Louis Park. Unlike our mixed-race daughters, I haven’t been asked if I ‘belong in this neighborhood,’ when fundraising for a Susan Lindgren Read-A-Thon, and lectured that ‘Minneapolis students need to stick to Minneapolis neighborhoods to beg for money.’ (Because, apparently, the Minneapolis district is the ‘default’ district for Blacks….It took some reserve on my part not to go introduce myself to this particular resident.) I’ve never been asked if I’m a citizen, or ‘if I’m here legally,’ because I ‘look’ American (whatever that is). I don’t think the tall, blonde, Swedish exchange student who was my daughter’s college roommate, was ever interrogated about her status in this country – even though she had a very heavy accent. Life is pretty problem free when you’re White.
    All that said, warts and all, I love this country, our flag, our anthem – but that love is not with blinders on. I believe these students, these protesters we are seeing – they love this country, too. This/these protests are no statement about NOT loving our flag, our anthem or our country – they are quite the opposite. They are a PLEA for their country to love them…equally. No one would willingly make themselves a target for vile, sometimes violent, rhetoric over something they didn’t care deeply about. If that were the case…they wouldn’t even bother.

  14. Ione Hedges on September 30th, 2017 4:09 pm

    I’m so proud of are youth they are aware of the racist hate going on in our country, they want a peaceful community to live in, knowing we are all human and all equal. This is not about respect or disrespect for are country, this is about a peaceful protest to make everyone (adults) aware of innocent victims being shot by law enforcement sadly most of these victims are those of color. We are all equal we need to pay attention to our youth they get it.

  15. Ione Hedges on September 30th, 2017 6:25 pm
  16. Ione Hedges on October 2nd, 2017 7:55 am

    This is Nate Boyer. Nate is an army green beret turned NFL long snapper. This is the man who convinced Colin Kaepernick to change his protest to a kneel during the national anthem. After hearing about the protest he wrote Colin a letter about him sitting during the anthem and how it affected him personally. In this letter he wrote:

    “I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.

    Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it.

    There are already plenty people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind. I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you.”

    They met in San Diego to have a face to face discussion. During that 90 minute discussion Boyer convinced Kaepernick to kneel instead of sit because during a military funeral when they take the flag off the casket and fold it before presenting it to next of kin, fellow service members kneel. They agreed that kneeling was a proper way of showing his admiration for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their country while still freely exercising his right to peacefully protest. Colin wasn’t disrespecting the military with his protest. He chose a form of protest that was an homage to the military. He came to that choice with the help of a military man who was willing to listen and converse on a subject he didn’t understand. We need more conversations about the uncomfortable issues. Stop demanding they keep their protest where you don’t have to see it just because it makes you uneasy. That’s a privilege these men don’t have. They can’t only deal with racism when they feel like it. And we can’t get better without listening to each other. We all need to start doing better.

  17. Jason on October 3rd, 2017 8:32 am

    36 US code 301. Federal Law. National Anthem. Please look it up and gain an understanding please!!!!

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Athletes take a stand by kneeling down