Bellarmine players take knee before Friday’s game

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SAN JOSE — Bellarmine College Prep joined the national anthem protest Friday night as about eight or nine players took a knee before the San Jose Jesuit school’s game against Serra at San Jose City College.

The decision to kneel did not come as a surprise to the team.

The players, whose numbers were not easily visible as they knelt on the field surrounded by teammates who chose to stand, spoke to school administrators, teammates and coaches earlier about their decision to join the social-injustice crusade started last season by then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“Their intent was really to draw attention to people they feel are marginalized, people of color, immigrants in all different kinds of communities that they feel are not getting enough support, enough attention,” Bellarmine president Chris Meyercord said. “They wanted to bring a great understanding to that. That was really what their intention was.

“They have been thinking about it for a while, working with the school, talking to coaches, talking to teammates. They tried to be really clear about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Their hearts are in the right place.”

The players even reached out to classmates, Meyercord said.

“They put a statement out to their peers that they don’t intend any disrespect to the police or members of the armed services. That is not what this is about. It’s about really helping the marginalized.”

The players wrote a letter to the Bellarmine community before the game.

It read:

“We have chosen to kneel for the national anthem tonight in an act of peaceful protest against injustice. The act of kneeling during the anthem originated with sitting and progressed to kneeling as a sign of respect for our flag, as suggested by former Green Beret, Nate Boyer.

“As students of a Jesuit institution, we are taught to be men for and with others and to seek justice and truth. In light of our summit on understanding race in the 21st century, along with our personal experiences with discrimination both at Bellarmine and in our broader community, we feel compelled to raise awareness for the marginalized.

“By kneeling, we hope to express our dissatisfaction with our society’s failure to uphold the values of justice, equality, and peace, and start constructive dialogue in our community. In addition, we kneel to show our support for our country’s marginalized groups: minorities, women, immigrants, those who have experienced religious persecution, and members of the LGBTQ community.

“We would like to clarify that we unequivocally appreciate and value the sacrifices of law enforcement officers, yet we feel the need to express our displeasure with the continued failure of some members of law enforcement and our justice system to protect the marginalized.

“We pray that we should move forward on the path towards equality by engaging in constructive dialogue and celebrating our differences.

“We love our country and hope to promote change through this peaceful act of protest, which is inspired by our Jesuit education. Whether you sit, stand, or kneel, we invite you to join us in our efforts in any manner you choose. We look forward to continuing this conversation as a community in the coming days and weeks.

Sincerely,

Members of the Bellarmine family”

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