The NBA, WNBA and MLBas athletes refused to play and demanded a renewed focus on the fight for racial injustice in America. Now, Ole Miss’ football team is following in their footsteps, walking out of practice on Friday in protest of police brutality.
Videos of the walkout show the team standing in front of a confederate statue in Mississippi’s Oxford Square, chanting “hands up, don’t shoot” and “no justice, no peace.”
The team later tweeted a photo of the athletes during the walkout. “Police brutality and other injustices occurring across our nation have to end, and our team stands united to embrace our diversity and promote a culture of peace, equality and understanding,” the team said on Twitter.
“We decided to walk from our practice facility all the way down to the square in Oxford United to protest the end of police brutality,” an Ole Miss football player told CBS News on condition of anonymity, because players were asked not to speak to the media. “We have Blacks, Whites, Mexicans, all kinds of races on our team but that doesn’t matter. We are family and brothers and that’s how it should be out in the world.”
Head Coach Lane Kiffin told CBS News in a statement that he was “proud of our players coming together for justice and change.”
The player who spoke to CBS News said the team was inspired by the professional athletes who refused to play this week.
“We as student-athletes have that platform where the world really pays attention to us and we can easily have an impact on the less informed,” he said.
The walkout occurred on the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and the 65th anniversary of the death of Emmett Till,in the fight for civil rights.
Ole Miss is one of the wealthiest schools in the country. The football team alone hauls in an average annual revenue of $84 million, according to Forbes.
Their football team isn’t alone. On Thursday, the University of Kentucky’s football team walked out of their practice in protest.
The player said he hopes that the protest helps raise awareness both in Mississippi and across the nation.
“We are tired of racial injustice, we are tired of police brutality,” he said. “We ask for change and we ask for justice. Our message is clear — we want equality.”
Li Cohen contributed reporting.