Often times, marching bands use their combination of music and athleticism to create wonderful displays of imagery on their school’s football field during the college football season.
On Saturday, some members of the East Carolina University marching band decided to use their appearance for political reasons instead.
While the national anthem was being played at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium before ECU hosted Central Florida, at least three members of the band knelt, displaying support for Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who have performed various demonstrations during the anthem to raise awareness to political injustice in America.
Pirate Radio 1250 posted this photo on their Twitter account shortly after the ECU band’s demonstration:
The reaction from the crowd was not good.
After the marching band returned to the field for their usual halftime performance, they were greeted by loud boos from their own fans.
Pirate Radio 1250 documented this as well:
Less than an hour later, a statement was released from the school in reference to the demonstration.
Dr. Cecil Staton, the chancellor of ECU, issued this statement:
“As an institution of higher learning, East Carolina respects the rights of our students, staff and faculty to express their personal views. That is part of the free exchange of ideas on university campus. While we acknowledge and understand the disappointment felt by many Pirate fans in response to the events at the beginning of today’s football game, we urge all Pirate students, supporters and participants to act with respect for each other’s views. Civil discourse is an East Carolina value and part of our ECU creed. We are proud that the recent campus conversations on difficult issues have been constructive, meaningful exchanges that helped grow new understanding among out campus community. East Carolina will safeguard the right to free speech, petition and peaceful assembly as assured by the U.S. Constitution.”
This isn’t the first time a school marching band has publicly joined Kaepernick’s protest, which has inspired a multitude of athletes in several sports.
Last week, members of the Southern Methodist band took a knee in protest. That protest was done the same day SMU was honoring Dallas police officers and first responders who had been killed in the line of duty.
After that game, Coda Boyce, a student who knelt during the anthem, said the non-verbal protest does not mean those protesting hate all law enforcement.
“I’m not against all police officers, I’m not saying all cops are bad,” Boyce said. “I’m not saying all Caucasian people are bad, because they’re not. I just believe that the injustice being shown in the past couple of years has been too much to handle. And I’m a little tired of it.
“So if I have to knee during the national anthem — I still support the troops, and I still support the police officers who are doing their rightful job.”
Later Saturday, two members of the North Carolina State band knelt as well.