Entire Football Team Of 8-Year Olds Takes A Knee To Protest Police Brutality

The coach made sure they knew what they were protesting.

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When one player on a peewee football team in Belleville, Illinois called the Cahokia Quarterback Club asked his coach if he'd seen the recent protests in St. Louis, it started an impactful and much broader conversation with the rest of the young boys about police brutality against people of color.

The coach, Orlando Gooden, told Fox 2 Now he then asked the boy if he knew why people were protesting. "Because Black people are getting killed and nobody's going to jail," the child answered. 

With that precise reply, Gooden saw a good "teaching moment" and talked more to his team about Jason Stockley — the former St. Louis cop who allegedly said he was going to "kill" a Black man named Anthony Lamar Smith following a car chase before fatally shooting him in 2011 — as it was Stockley's acquittal that served as the impetus for the recent protests the boy asked about.

From there, The Root reports Gooden explained why former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last year, and the boys enthusiastically expressed interest in following suit.

After making sure the boys truly understood why they were protesting and checking with their parents, Gooden gave them his blessing and all 25 team members opted the kneel during the national anthem before their September 17 game.

"What I teach my kids is love, integrity, honesty, fairness, respect and boundaries," Gooden told Fox 2 Now. "As long as I have support of my parents and team, I'm perfectly fine, and I'm covered under the First Amendment to peacefully protest and assemble."

According to Mapping Police Violence — an organization that tracks how many people have been murdered by law enforcement officials — police killed at least 309 Black Americans in the United States in 2016, many of whom were unarmed. 

Many black parents have had to have difficult conversations with their children about the police, and it's encouraging (if also a bit heartbreaking) to see that the boys of the Cahokia Quarterback Club are incredibly aware of the world around them.

Though he is currently not signed to a team (likely because of his protests) there's no doubt Kaepernick and others like him have succeeded in raising awareness for these young boys and millions of others about police violence against people of color.

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