UK school allows students to take knee to protest racially motivated abuse

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A school in England allowed students Tuesday to take a knee to protest racism – drawing fury from some parents and a local lawmaker despite claiming the youngsters helped come up with the idea, according to a report.

A spokesman for Noel-Baker Academy — a secondary school in Alvaston for students ages 11 through 16 — said the idea for the display of unity came about following the July 11 Euro 2020 final.

Children and staffers witnessed “racially motivated abuse” of members of England’s national team online following its 3-2 heartbreaking loss to Italy, the Derby Telegraph reported.

“Following this, the school council requested that we do something to reinforce our stance against racism and make it clear that as a school community, we are proudly anti-racist,” the spokesman told the newspaper. “At the staff and students’ suggestion, we have run a series of morning assemblies every day since, which have explored a range of issues around racism.”

The assemblies led up to Tuesday’s display, when students and staff were given several options to show their anti-racism stance by either linking arms, putting hands on their hearts, taking a moment of silence or dropping to one knee to “reflect on the beautiful diversity” worldwide, the school’s spokesman said.

“The choice of action or gesture was entirely free for students and staff alike to choose and was simply about standing united as one community against prejudice or discrimination,” the spokesman continued.

At least two parents at the school, meanwhile, pushed back on the suggested gestures, insisting either children should not have been encouraged to make a judgment on the issue or that announcements should have preceded Tuesday’s assembly.

A member of the Derby City Council told the Derby Telegraph that some parents said their children were told they needed to join the anti-racism display.

“The real issue here is the peer pressure youngsters would be put under to do something they might not agree with,” Councilor Alan Graves said. “This in effect means they will be bullied by the very people they rely on to educate them. One has to ask the question as to why a school would suggest something that is divisive amongst pupils.”

In 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee as the national anthem played before preseason games to protest police brutality. He was joined by teammate Eric Reid, a Louisiana native who previously penned a column on the Black Lives Matter movement regarding the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge in July 2016.

“I love America,” Kaepernick said after the preseason game in San Diego, where his protest led to ferocious boos. “I love people. That’s why I’m doing this.”

The gesture is still employed by anti-racism advocates and some Black Lives Matter movement members following the high-profile murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last year.

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