Police in Berwick, La., removed the father of a high school football player from a game after a verbal altercation over his son’s demonstration during the national anthem.
Berwick High cornerback Keyon Singleton was the only member of his team to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before his team’s Sept. 29 game, according to local media outlets, and his father, Floyd Malveaux, congratulated him between the anthem and kickoff.
“After the anthem, but before the team took the field, I approached my son to tell him that I admired him and was proud of him,” Malveaux told local TV station KLFY.
When he returned to his seat, other spectators began arguing with Malveaux. Police soon after escorted him from the school, but not the other spectators with whom he exchanged words.
“I was cursed out, told to get the you know ‘what’ outta here and go sit the you know ‘where’ down,” he told KLFY. “So of course I’m not gonna take anyone talking to me like that, and so it becomes a verbal altercation between the two of us. However, when the police arrived, I was told that I needed to leave, but not the other parent.”
Malveaux and the Berwick Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Malveaux said his son knelt during the anthem to protest “racial inequality” and the third verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which he said Singleton finds offensive. The verse mentions “the hireling and slave,” a reference, academics say, to runaway slaves who joined British ranks in the War of 1812 and of whom author Francis Scott Key was no great fan.
St. Mary Parish schools superintendent Leonard Armato said Singleton will not face discipline for his demonstration and wrote to The Washington Post in an email, “The district respects the 1st amendment rights of all individuals.”
Armato, though, told KLFY, “As a system, we rather see an individual take the protest to another venue and not bring the protest to a high school event.”
He also said, “We expect and encourage our students to stand for the national anthem and the flag.”
Schools in Bossier Parish in northwest Louisiana told students they will be subject to suspensions or removal from sports teams if they demonstrate during the national anthem.
“Parkway High School requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is participating,” Parkway High School principal Waylon Bates wrote in a Sept. 28 letter to parents. “Failure to comply will result in a loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal. Continued failure to comply will result in removal from the team.”
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