Kent State students #TakeaKnee against 'oppression'
A pair of student groups at Kent State University, the Student Power Coalition (S.P.C.) and World of Kolored Empowerment (W.O.K.E.), staged a protest Thursday to support NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.
The S.P.C is an umbrella coalition group for multiple student organizations that claims to “express and practically demonstrate our solidarity with students across the country and across the world who struggle for a better future and against oppression of all kinds."
S.P.C. aims to “organize in such a way that each of our interests are highlighted where they intersect and respected where they do not."
According to a flyer for the event, the S.P.C. took a knee for “the Dreamers, the brutalized by the authority, the ones who have been under and misrepresented” and “[t]he oppressed who don’t believe that a change will come," among other causes.
Dante Bonner, a Sophomore at Kent State, felt it was necessary to protest “because of the most recent events and all the negativity around here." He added that he was also taking a knee in solidarity with the people who “our leader said some vulgar things to."
Skyler Reisinger, another student who attended the demonstration, felt it was his “duty as someone who has privilege to express my voice." He hopes that, because of the demonstration, the university will “make more of an effort have a more inclusive environment."
Abby McDowell said she was at the protest to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Colin Kaepernick started [taking a knee] before Trump, and was mainly about Black Lives Matter," she said. "But with Trump in office it's important to address him and his actions too."
In response to the protest, the Kent State chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) scheduled a response demonstration.
The “#StandWithUs” event took place Monday at the Risman Plaza, and the group welcomed all students to join in as attendees stood “for the national anthem in support of our Veterans and fallen heroes.”
The demonstration was scheduled to take place at 11:00 AM, and the TPUSA chapter promptly set up with American flags and patriotic signs.
In response to this demonstration, Sophomore Noah Blievernicht organized an impromptu counter-demonstration to “[k]neel for everyone who had their rights taken away from them by a system that is supposed to protect them.”
“I felt it was my duty to fight back, stand up against injustices. The people standing up don't know what the issue is about. It's not about the flag, it's about the social injustices,” Blievernicht told Campus Reform.
Sophomore Lindsey Patterson echoed the sentiment, saying, “I love America, but we can't call ourselves the land of the free if everyone isn't free.”
Kelsey Smith, a freshman protester, also calls herself a proud American but “will not stand with racists, police brutality, and social injustices.”
Sophomore Adam Stropkey, who participated in the TPUSA demonstration, simply said he feels that “America deserves more respect.”
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