White Coach Removes Black Athletes From Football Team Following National Anthem Protests
Two Victory & Praise Christian Academy football players were kicked off the team for protesting during the national anthem at a game Friday night.
Cedric Ingram-Lewis raised his fist while cousin Larry McCullough knelt during the anthem ahead of the team's game against Providence Classical.
After the anthem ended, head coach Ronnie Mitchem instructed them to take off their uniforms and kicked them off the team. Mitchem is a former Marine and pastor who started the church-based football program in Crosby six years ago.
Ingram-Lewis, a sophomore, said the topic of protesting had come up in the locker room before and his cousin McCullough, a senior, even announced he would kneel via social media. The coach had told players he did not want anyone to kneel, citing his service in the military.
"He told us that disrespect will not be tolerated," Lewis said, recalling the moments after the anthem ended. "He told us to take off our uniform and leave it there."
Mitchem said the pair left him no choice. He thought he had a deal with his players that no one would kneel. He said he supported the pair protesting, but wanted them to do it in other ways - kneeling after a touchdown in the end zone or writing and passing out a paper about the issues.
Mitchem believes the kneeling offends people and veterans who have fought for this country and takes away from the focus on the issues.
"That was my point of view," Mitchem said. "Like I said, I'm a former Marine. That just doesn't fly and they knew that. I don't have any problem with those young men. We've had a good relationship. They chose to do that and they had to pay for the consequences."