Sheriff's deputies in Louisiana have determined a high school football team isn't worthy of their protection after many players protested police brutality by kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
A majority of the players from Bonnabel High School's varsity football team declined to participate in the national anthem before last week's game, and a photograph of their protest gained widespread attention, reported WVUE-TV.
The superintendent of Jefferson Parish Schools said he was "taken aback at first," but he understands the students are acting within their legal rights to refrain from standing during the national anthem.
“They do have a right, and legally we do not have any right to punish or offer any sanctions against the team or team members,” said Isaac Joseph, the superintendent.
But sheriff's deputies disagree and are refusing to provide security at the school's games to punish the team for their expression.
“My understanding is, we’ve had some officers that said they will not work the Bonnabel High football games,” said Sheriff Newell Normand. “I understand why, in light of Colin Kaepernick's comments, specifically when he says, ‘Cops are getting paid leave for killing people.’ That's not right, that's not right by anyone's standards. The fact of the matter is we risk our lives each and every day for the safety and security of our constituency throughout this country.”
Normand said some of his deputies are refusing to sign up for the voluntary security detail.
“The same way that the Bonnabel players have every right to kneel during the national anthem, my officers have every right not to volunteer to work the Bonnabel high school football game,” said the Jefferson Parish sheriff.
He's sure there will be enough deputies to work the extra security detail and he won't allow the school to go without protection, but Normand won't force deputies to work if they feel disrespected by the students' protest.
“That fuels the disappointment in my officers when they see this happen, and I can fully understand their disappointment and frustration,” Normand said. “When they’re on the clock and they’re working for me, they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, because that’s what they’re hired to do. That’s not what this is - this is a voluntary detail where they volunteer to work this extra detail separate and apart from what they’re hired to do.”
He said the refusal is no different than when deputies decline to work security details for concerts or events if they disagree with the artist or message.
Watch this video report posted online by WVUE-TV: