Members of women's Razorback basketball team protest national anthem
Members of the women's Razorback basketball team took a knee during the national anthem Thursday night before an exhibition game against Oklahoma Baptist in Fayetteville.
Fans of the team reacted on social media, some saying the women were disrespectful, while other applauded the protest.
Arkansas lawmakers also reacted on social media. Sen. Jim Hendren (R-District 2) tweeted a picture of military caskets and called the women disrespectful. Governor Asa Hutchinson retweeted his tweet. Rep. Laurie Rushing (R-District 26) responded to Hendren's tweet by saying she would "take a knee" on U of A funding.
Some of the team members who kneeled explained their decision in a post-game press conference.
“You all know that there’s been a lot of killings from police officers of African Americans and of other minorities and me and my teammates took a kneel today during the national anthem to speak for those who are oppressed. The student athletes, the Razorback student athletes, we have a platform to do that. So this situation, people have turned a blind eye to it and we’re here to raise awareness of these situations because we do live in a unjust system and we’re just here to speak for those are oppressed,” said sophomore Jordan Danberry.
Another team member said she did not mean to disrespect fans, but wanted to make a statement.
“On behalf of me and my teammates that we love being a Lady Razorback and we love our fan base. We didn’t mean any disrespect by it. We just feel like a lot of things in society needs to change and one thing is police brutality. It’s just black people, people of color are being attacked and we just want to speak out and make a difference. We’re able to do that and that’s what we’re doing. No disrespect to any of our fans, we love you guys and we just pray you guys keep supporting us,” said sophomore Briunna Freeman.
Director of Razorback athletics, Jeff Long said the students had a right to express their opinion.
"In this country, we value everyone’s right to voice their opinions and views. University campuses are places of learning and thus places where differences of opinion and varying perspectives are recognized. We respect the rights of our student-athletes and all individuals to express themselves on important issues in our nation.
We will continue to encourage our student-athletes to engage in constructive conversations with their peers, coaches, support staff and administrators to raise awareness of varying backgrounds and life experiences and to develop understanding among conflicting points of view.
We will also continue to support our student-athletes in all areas of their education, community engagement, career and personal development," Long said in a statement.