Graduate students organize peaceful march to support ETSU men’s basketball team kneeling

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*Editors note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that The New Generation Freedom Fighters were organizing a peaceful march in support of the East Tennessee State University men’s basketball team.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University graduate students organized a peaceful march in support of the Bucs men’s basketball team taking a knee during the national anthem last week.

The organizer of the event told News Channel 11 the event is being led by the ETSU Counseling graduate students.

Since the silent protest, the team has received backlash from Tennessee lawmakers and the community on the belief the demonstration is disrespectful — despite the team proclaiming it as a call of action to spark conversation surrounding racial injustice.

The ETSU Department of Social Work shared that the ‘Stand Against Racism: Take a Knee in Support of the ETSU Men’s Basketball Team’ event will take place at the parking lot next to the ETSU parking garage and visitor’s center.

Participants plan to march and then take a knee to show support for the basketball team and “in honor of all Black lives and the fight to end racism.”

Another group to spread the word included The New Generation Freedom Fighters.

Officials with the Washington County, Tennessee Democratic Party also announced on social media they would be in attendance to show solidarity with the team.

This announcement comes one day after Tennessee lawmakers discussed student-athletes’ “First Amendment right or privilege” while wearing team uniforms and on the court.

“Have you or your staff taken the opportunity to research the First Amendment right or privilege relative to when you’re in uniform as an ambassador to the university or when you’re out of uniform? Have you all taken a look at that…I think most of us are thinking that when you’re in that uniform and you’re acting as an ambassador for the university and the state, there is possibly a line there that differentiates that freedom of speech.

Sen. Rusty Crowe (R- Johnson City)

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