8-year-old football players kneel during national anthem in protest

Published: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 @ 7:49 AM

Youth Football Players Kneel For National Anthem

Every player from an 8-and-under football team in Belleville, Illinois, took a knee in protest during the national anthem before their game on Saturday, according to KTVI.

>> Watch the news report here

“One of the kids asked me if I saw (people) protesting and rioting in St. Louis. I said yes; I said, ‘Do you know why they are doing it?'” said Coach Orlando Gooden during a phone interview with the news station on Tuesday.

>> See a photo of the protest here

Gooden told the news station that one of the players responded, “Because black people are getting killed and nobody’s going to jail.”

Gooden, a former football player at the University of Missouri, said his players were aware of the recent Jason Stockley decision, which saw an ex-St. Louis officer acquitted in a fatal shooting of a black driver and led to numerous protests.

>> Elderly woman knocked to ground by police during St. Louis protest

“I felt like it was a good teaching moment for me to circle the team and have a meeting,” he said.

Gooden said he spoke with his team about that and other situations that have taken place recently in the United States and explained why free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others have knelt during the anthem in protest.

>> Read more trending news

“One of the kids asked, ‘Can we do that?’ I said, ‘As long as we know why we’re doing it, I don’t have a problem with any of it,'” he said.

According to the coach, the third-graders immediately took a knee as the anthem began, with their backs — unintentionally — away from the flag.

The History of the National Anthem

“What I teach my kids is love, integrity, honesty, fairness, respect and boundaries,” he said.

The players’ parents reportedly supported the coach’s decision to allow the team to take a knee; however, a Facebook post from his wife reveals that there has been some backlash from other residents in the area.

“As long as I have support of my parents and team, I’m perfectly fine, and I’m covered under the First Amendment to peacefully protest and assemble,” Gooden said.

Five Fast Facts: Colin Kaepernick

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Teens stop basketball game to take knees, pay respect during funeral procession

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 7:19 AM

FILE PHOTO (cocoparisienne/pixabay.com license: https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage)
cocoparisienne/pixabay.com
FILE PHOTO (cocoparisienne/pixabay.com license: https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage)(cocoparisienne/pixabay.com)

A group of teens hitting the hoops near Baton Rouge are going viral for a simple gesture of respect.

They stopped their basketball game in Franklinton, Louisiana, on Friday to take a knee, paying respects to the recently departed during a funeral procession, WAFB reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Lynn Bienvenu and Johannah Stroud attended the funeral for their cousin, Velma Kay Crowe.

They were the ones who saw the teens stop their game and pause as the cars went past, WAFB reported

Bienvenu posted the photo to Facebook where it is getting noticed.

Bienvenu said of the teens, “They took a knee not out of respect but honor. There was not an adult in sight to tell them to stop playing. This meant a great deal to our family. May God bless each one as I feel they will achieve greatness.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

She told WAFB that one teen contacted her on social media to give his condolences for the loss of Crowe, whom the teens did not know personally.

This is not the first time the teens have paused their game. Others have told Bienvenu that they have been seen doing the same thing for other funeral processions.

Many residents told WAFB that coaches and teachers at Franklinton Junior High School have repeatedly told students that they should show respect when a funeral procession drives by.

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Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, in labor with royal baby

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:51 AM
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:51 AM

Third Child Coming for Prince William, Kate Middleton

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in London and is in the “early stages of labor,” Kensington Palace tweeted Monday.

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Where is Travis Reinking? Search continues for Waffle House shooting suspect

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 1:25 AM

Waffle House Shooting: Who is Travis Reinking

A massive hunt to capture the man wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of four people at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, outside Nashville, continues.

>> Watch the news report here

>> Waffle House shooting: 4 dead after nude gunman opens fire in Tennessee; victims identified

Travis Reinking, 29, is now on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Top 10 Most Wanted List, and law enforcement said he is armed, dangerous and hiding, WHBQ's Greg Coy reports

>> Who is Travis Reinking, the person of interest in the Waffle House shooting?

Police said Reinking returned to his apartment after opening fire at the Waffle House. Reinking, who reportedly was nude at the time of the shooting, put on pants and then ran into the woods, police said.

>> Waffle House 'hero' disarmed shooter, tossed rifle over counter

Neighbor Johnny Green said another neighbor noticed Reinking and called police. 

>> Who is James Shaw Jr., the man who disarmed the Waffle House shooter?

"My mom saw him," Green added. Coy asked, "What did she say about him?" "He just seemed weird," Green replied

>> Read more trending news 

Police said they hope the rain and cooler temperatures will draw Reinking out of hiding. Police said Reinking's options are limited because the crime and social media attention have made him an international fugitive.

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Police use anti-KKK law to arrest people protesting neo-Nazis

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 2:44 AM

Counterprotesters are held by law enforcement officers as the National Socialist Movement holds a rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. The far-right hate group also drew anti-fascist demonstrators as well as hundreds of police officers. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)
HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Counterprotesters are held by law enforcement officers as the National Socialist Movement holds a rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. The far-right hate group also drew anti-fascist demonstrators as well as hundreds of police officers. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)(HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

Faced with hundreds of demonstrators rallying against a crowd of neo-Nazis in Newnan, Georgia, authorities turned to a little-known Georgia law adopted in 1951 to combat the Ku Klux Klan.

>> Tension, arrests at neo-Nazi rally in metro Atlanta

The law, which makes it illegal to wear a mask at most public events, was cited in several of the arrests of counterdemonstrators who joined a protest Saturday against white supremacists.

And the irony was not lost upon the organizers of the counterdemonstration, who were fuming Sunday that a law aimed at weakening white supremacists was used to arrest protesters who opposed a neo-Nazi rally.

“They were trying to stop us, and we were trying to dial down the racist stuff,” said Jeremy Ortega, a 19-year-old who was among the counterprotesters charged with a misdemeanor for wearing a mask.

He said many of the demonstrators wore masks to avoid being identified and threatened by white power groups.

“We were peacefully protesting, yet they put guns in our faces and told us to take our masks off,” said Ortega, who added that he is considering filing a civil lawsuit. “It made no sense.”

State and local authorities did not comment on specific allegations of abuse on Sunday. But Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said the overwhelming security – nearly 700 law enforcement officers were on hand – helped prevent the clashes from escalating.

“Making arrests in a volatile situation is never going to be pretty,” Keenan said.

No one from the white supremacist group was arrested on Saturday, and they largely avoided confrontations with police or the counterdemonstration group. The two dozen white supremacists who attended the rally were separated from the group by an 8-foot fence – and hundreds of armed officers.

‘Remove your mask’

On Sunday, a coalition of counterprotest groups planned a vigil at the Coweta County Jail to criticize what they said was excessive violence by police.

The Huffington Post reported that a contingent of officers approached a group of 50 counterdemonstrators before the rally and demanded they remove their masks or face arrests. The news outlet wrote that officers then “grabbed those who were still masked, tossing them to the ground and handcuffing them.”

A video posted on social media by freelance journalist Daniel Shular appeared to show authorities scuffling with counterdemonstrators. Authorities demanded that the counterprotesters remove their masks, and the footage showed an officer raising his rifle at demonstrators.

“Remove your mask, or you will be arrested,” said an officer in the video, which shows a ring of demonstrators standing with their hands raised aloft. Several are chanting “hands up, don’t shoot.”

A counterprotester kneels with his hands up in front of law enforcement officers during a neo-Nazi rally at Greenville Street Park in downtown Newnan on Saturday, April 21, 2018. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)(HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who attempted to report on the confrontation during the rally was obstructed by authorities.

Several other counterdemonstrators faced violations that have nothing to do with the anti-mask law.

Daniel Hanley was charged with obstruction of a pedestrian roadway after he said he nonviolently resisted a police officer who confronted him. He said he believes he was arrested because he was wielding a megaphone and leading chants against the white supremacists.

“They were trying to find any pretext to shut us down,” Hanley, 36, said of the authorities. “The moment we stepped foot there, they intimated us and strategically tried to target people.”

‘Absolutely satisfied’

State law bans the wearing of masks, hoods or other devices that conceal a person’s identity if they’re on public property or on private property where the owner has not consented. It includes exceptions for holidays, theatrical productions, civil emergencies and sporting events.

The laws have been adopted by about a dozen states, most aimed at weakening the KKK in the middle of the 20th century. The Georgia Supreme Court in 1990 upheld the state’s ban after a Klansman donned a hood on the Lawrenceville Square, citing his First Amendment rights.

The law has mostly been used to target KKK demonstrations, though it has also been employed before to arrest demonstrators who are objecting to white power groups. At a 2016 rally, the law was used to arrest eight demonstrators protesting a white supremacist rally at Stone Mountain Park.

Barricades and fencing are in place around a city park in Newnan as police prepared for Saturday's rally by a neo-Nazi group on Saturday, April 21, 2018. The neo-Nazis expected a turnout of 50 to 100, but only a couple dozen showed up. They were well outnumbered by counterprotesters and law enforcement officers. (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)(HYOSUB SHIN / AJC)

In a strange turn, it also was invoked ahead of a press conference last year at the Gold Dome, when supporters of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle threatened to hire performers in circus masks to interrupt a rival’s event. The clowns never showed up.

>> Read more trending news 

Authorities said they were intent on enforcing that law and others as they studied how law enforcement officials handled white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 to prepare for the Newnan event.

In Charlottesville, officers remained largely passive as bloody clashes raged around them, and the event soon spiraled out of control. One person was killed and dozens more were injured in the violence.

“You have to have adequate resources and the intent to enforce the law,” Keenan said. “We had both.”

He said officers made clear to both groups that masks and some weapons were not allowed. He said authorities found an abandoned backpack with smoke bombs at one checkpoint. State law allows demonstrators to carry firearms if they are licensed; on Saturday, several were spotted sporting firearms.

“We maintained security. We would not let there be disorder. We didn’t have civil disorder, property damage. And we had just a few arrests,” Keenan said. “We are absolutely satisfied.”

MORE COVERAGE FROM AJC.COM: 

>> Reports from Newnan as the rally and counterprotest were underway

>> How social media reacted

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