WICKLIFFE, Ohio (WJW) – Cell phone video taken at the last two Wickliffe City School District football games shows members of the cheerleading squad kneeling while the marching band played the national anthem.
The FOX 8 I-Team sent emails to Superintendent Joseph Spiccia, asking why the cheerleaders were protesting but have not yet received a response to that question.
One parent says he was told the cheerleaders were protesting social injustice.
For the last several years, some professional athletes have protested against police brutality and racism by kneeling on one knee while the anthem was played.
Spiccia sent the following statement to FOX 8.
“It is true that some cheerleaders knelt during the National Anthem at the recent football game. Regardless of the students’ reasons for kneeling, they have a right to do so. The law is very clear about the right for students to peacefully protest. Please consider:
– Kneeling during the anthem is considered a peaceful protest and is protected by the first amendment. Supreme Court precedents have found in favor of the right for students to peacefully express themselves.
– In order for the school to intervene in such a protest, a “substantial disruption of school” must be demonstrated. There was no disruption of school.
– As a school, we cannot choose the manner in which students protest/express themselves.
– The school has an obligation to protect all students from harm and it will protect these students as we do all students.
One of the beautiful things about living in the United States is that all citizens (students included) have the right to peacefully assemble and express themselves through speech, protest, or other means.
Whenever one group protests there is likely another group who opposes the protest; it is how our democracy works. Ideally, peaceful protest and counter-protest leads to a better understanding about how people feel and think, and gives all an opportunity to make our country better.
The District will have no other comments.”
Some of the people we talked to in Wickliffe agreed with the protests .
“Good for them. It’s a good thing, nothing wrong with that,” said Raymond Cavanaugh, a veteran.
Another veteran concurred with his statement.
“This is America. We have these rights to peacefully protest,” said Michael Underwood. “I am a military veteran and this is what we fought for, that’s what we stand for, the right to protest.”
Yet, several others felt differently.
“We politicized the national anthem, we politicized our flag and it’s a shame we did that kind of stuff,” said Joe Gentile. “At the end of the day, is it disrespectful? Of course it is, but everybody has a choice to make and sometimes they don’t make good choices.”