A football player from Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester joined a national protest by kneeling during the national anthem before a game Friday.
Mike Oppong, a 16-year-old junior, kneeled before the game Friday night against Leominster. His actions got more attention afterwards, when Oppong tweeted that his coach suspended him for a game because he did not stand for the anthem.
“My coach called me and told me I’d be suspended for a game,” said Oppong. “And he’s the one that actually told me to tweet that.”
Worcester Superintendent Maureen Binieda denied that the coach suspended Oppong, saying he only suggested that might happen. Oppong will not be disciplined by the school.
“I don’t have a right or wrong feeling about it, I think he followed what he felt passionate about,” said Binieda. “And the law says he has the right to do that.”
Oppong said he was inspired by San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick, who said he has been kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice in America. Oppong said he felt compelled to do something to raise awareness.
“I’m really not trying to be a hero,” said Oppong. “I’m trying to help justice be served.”
Oppong’s story has spread online and he has gotten both positive and negative feedback for his decision to kneel.
“I was really surprised. At first, it felt like it was just a local thing and then out of nowhere, it blew up,” said Oppong.
Oppong’s teammates have mixed opinions about what he is doing but said they do support his right to protest. He said he plans to kneel again at his team’s next game.
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