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Published On: Thu, Oct 6th, 2016

East Carolina University strikes down band protests during National Anthem

Athletes from the NFL to the WNBA to our colleges and high schools have taken a knee during The Star-Spangled Banner as a form of protest against alleged racism and outrage over shootings across the country.

On Saturday some 19 East Carolina University marching band members chose to express themselves other than musically during the playing of National Anthem by taking a knee. Chancellor Cecil Staton expressed begrudging support for the rights of the students whose act of defiance angered many fans who booed the band when they returned to the field at halftime.

“The strong boos from the crowd when they realized what was happening certainly echoed the sentiment of the board,” Kiernan Shanahan, a Raleigh attorney and member of the ECU board of trustees told Fox News‘ Todd Starnes. “It was unfortunate and poor judgement for these few band members to disrespect our country, to take advantage of the uniforms they were wearing as ECU Pirate band members – to advance a personal agenda.”

The press ignored the two tuba players, Dylan Allen and Hunter Marketto, who held up a U.S. flag in counterprotest.

“We found out beforehand that they were going to do a protest, so we wanted to do something on our own,” Marketto, of Pikeville, told the News Observer Tuesday.

east-caolinra-band-members-protesting-nantional-anthem5“We wanted to be patriots in our own right,” Marketto said, “but at the same time, we wanted to stand for the First Amendment rights of our brothers and sisters” who chose to kneel. “One of the main details that is getting lost in all this is that the ones who knelt were 110 percent behind Dylan and me, just as we were 110 percent behind them.”

On Monday, Jeff Compher, the school’s athletic director, said he was “confident that there will be a positive resolution for future games.” Then the email dropped:

“We regret the actions taken by 19 members of the East Carolina University Marching Pirates on game day October 1st felt hurtful to many in our Pirate family and disrespectful to our country. We understand and respect this is an issue where emotions are strong. …

“College is about learning, and it is our expectation that the members of the Marching Pirates will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities. While we affirm the right of all our students to express their opinions, protests of this nature by the Marching Pirates will not be tolerated moving forward. It is our hope that together we can move past these events and that the Marching Pirates will be part of the healing process, working as one Pirate Nation.”

Many are now outraged that the school is locking down on the students.

ECU professor named Tracy Tuten countered: “Since the band members can act on the First Amendment without regard to university rules, I too want to act on my Second Amendment rights to bear arms.”

“Apparently all of us in U.S. Nation have a few more freedoms than they do in Pirate Nation,” wrote the USA Today.

Robert L. Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which opposes limits on the speech of students and faculty members, said via email that East Carolina may have found a way to bar anthem protests without violating the First Amendment.

“The band director at either a public or a private university has the right to tell band members what they may or may not do during performances and to enforce this through internal discipline or by separating a member from the band,” Shibley said. “However, as a state university, ECU cannot use the student disciplinary process to punish band members for protected expression.”

The incident is the latest in what has become a form of protest at venues across the country. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in August sparked the wave of protests after he refused to stand for the national anthem before a game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. BMatt says:

    It is so funny that people expect that if they protest there won’t be backlash and there won’t be consequences. The media is overblowing this whole BLM movement and making racial issues in America seem worse than what they really are.

    Then you got these kids who represent entities far greater than themselves and if those entities choose so they can remove those kids because they aren’t representing the entity they promised to serve. It’s not against first amendment, its understanding that you are trying to protest a personal matter in dress and as part of an institution that may not agree with your stance. They have every right to remove you if your protests are going to negatively impact them.

    I also don’t understand why people kneel during the National Anthem when they ask you to stand to honor the soldiers of America. You’re kneeling to protest this so called ‘social racial injustice of cops shooting black people’ but you dishonor those who serve to give you those freedoms. Why choose such a platform to protest? Why not do something proactive? What do you actually hope to achieve by kneeling? Awareness? You don’t think the media already lam-blasts any cop who shoots someone? Even when it’s a black cop in a precinct run by a black cop who shot a black man with a gun????????

    The ridiculous nature proves that even those who are protesting have lost sight of what they truly intended and people protest and riot and burn down businesses and blame the police.

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