Players around the country have been taking a knee this week during the national anthem following the lead of NFL players Colin Kaepernick, Brandon Marshall and Eric Reed.
In New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson (Camden) coach Preston Brown and his assistants took a knee with their players. Brown might be the only coach who joined his players in kneeling.
Two senior players chose to stand during the anthem.
According to the New Jersey State Police quarterly report, violent crimes in Camden surged 42.5 percent in 2016’s first quarter compared to the beginning of 2015, reflecting sharp increases for rapes, robberies and assaults, Violent crime also climbed in Camden over the last quarter of 2015 by 23.9 percent, according to the State Police.
“I still love America. I still love our military,” Brown told Philly.com. “But this was our way of saying that things have to change in our country. There’s oppression, there’s social injustice, and these kids live it.”
On Sunday, a district spokesmen for the Camden City Schools, Brendan Lowe, released a statement: “The District supports standing for the flag, but this is a personal issue, and we strongly respect our students’ experiences and their exercising our country’s First Amendment rights. Whether our students choose to stand, kneel, or otherwise, we’re proud of their engagement with what is more broadly a very important social justice issue.”
Brown, 32, is in his second year coaching at Wilson and is a graduate of the school. He understands better than most the struggles of that community.
“You’ve got kids who are in a school system where there aren’t enough quality teachers,” Brown said. “They’re hungry and they can’t get ‘seconds’ at lunch. It’s so many things that these kids go through.”