Beaumont youth football team threatened over protest during anthem

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Beaumont youth football team threatened over anthem protest
Beaumont youth football team threatened over anthem protest

BEAUMONT, TX (KTRK) -- An 11-year-old and his football teammates decided to take a stand against racism by taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

As the anthem began Saturday night, Jaelun Parkerson and his Beaumont Bulls teammates took off their helmets, kneeled and placed their hands on each others' shoulders. They were following NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's example.

"Even though we're kids, we can still get the information and know about the stuff that's going on," Jaelun said.

RELATED: Colin kaepernick kneels; 2 rams raise fists for national anthem

Jaelun's mother, April Parkerson, said she and her family know racism well.

"Our players have been called the n-word by opposing teams," Parkerson said. "I had to explain to my son what that meant when he was called that for the first time at, you know, 9-years-old."

Since Saturday's game, Parkerson said the team has received support, but also death threats.

"We have someone who commented, 'kill them all,' in response to someone who was showing support for our organization," Parkerson said.

Jaelun takes these comments to heart. "It just makes me sad and scared," he said.

The team's former coach told Beaumont's 12News he disagrees with the team's decision to kneel during the anthem.

"I was just disgusted with the whole thing," Tre Martin said, "The only reason those boys get to play football and we have a country like we do is because of our veterans and flag, and what it represents."

The Beaumont Bulls executive board sent Eyewitness News a statement expressing their support for the team, saying in part:

"It is our hope and desire to cultivate young men that will be leaders in our communities that will make a difference in this world and though their stance was not seen by all as a sign of progress, we believe it was and we will continue to support them."

Parkerson said the team does not plan on backing down because of criticism. "We plan on kneeling every Saturday until the football season is done," Parkerson said.

Jaelun said he wants other people to learn something from his silent protest. "That everybody is the same deep down."

Parkerson said she has not reported the threats to Beaumont Police yet, but she will if she feels her family is directly threatened.