Death threats follow kneeling protest at youth football game

Photo Credit: April Parkerson

Earlier this month, the Beaumont Bulls youth football team kneeled in protest during the national anthem, following the lead of NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

The 11- and 12-year-old boys first kneeled during a game on Sept. 10, prompting death threats on KFDM’s Facebook page and other social media sites.

Comments including “Kill them all” and “Coaches need to be lynched and fired” were posted along with various slurs, according to screenshots. The original comments were deleted from KFDM’s page.

“The national stories haven’t gotten as much hate, but the local [response] was horrible,” said April Parkerson, mother of Jaelun Parkerson, a player who started the protest.

Sept. 15, the team’s executive board held a meeting to discuss safety concerns. According to the board’s statement, “the meeting got out of hand and nothing was resolved.” The board stated that the varsity team will be allowed to keep kneeling during the anthem.

Parkerson said that the players had obtained board approval to kneel but were told Sept. 15 that her son would be benched for protesting and the senior season canceled if the protests continued.

The board’s statement said, “The allegations made by April Parkerson against the Bay Area Football League is false due to the fact Bay Area Football League did not have a part in the decisions made by the board. We support the youths’ First Amendment right.”

The Houston-based Bay Area Football League (BAFL) also released a statement Sept. 16 that said they were notified of the protest before it occurred and “fully supported the players request to express themselves in the manner they felt justified.”

Fourteen out of 19 players continued kneeling during the Sept. 18 game.