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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Taking a Knee

This football season, many have been using the ubiquitous playing of the National Anthem at sporting events as a platform for protest. Most notably spearheaded by the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick, players and others have remained seated, taken a knee, or raised a clinched fist to protest injustice, most notably police brutality and the deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement.

The protests have now hit the band world.

In a week where both Terence Crutcher in Tulsa and KeithnScott in Charlotte lost their lives to police, members of at least two college bands joined in the spirit of protest. In Chapel Hill, members of the Marching Tar Heels protested. As a formidable mass in the student section remained seated, fists raised, at least two Marching Tar Heels took a knee and did not play.


The night before in Dallas, five members of SMU's Mustang Band took a knee but continued to play during the anthem. Of particular note in this instance, SMU was using the game to honor five Dallas police officers, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patricio Zamarripa, who were killed in an ambush during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest following police related killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in a tragically bloody stretch this summer.

Much as NFL and other franchises have each handled protesting players differently, it remains to be seen how bands will address protests from within their ranks.

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