GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – There’s new reaction to the actions of 19 members of the East Carolina University Marching Pirates on Saturday.
They took a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to the school’s football game against the University of Central Florida on October 1; some played their instruments while on a knee, while others didn’t play at all.
At halftime when the band took the field they found themselves met with boos.
ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton later issued a statement that said the school acknowledges disappointment felt by fans. However, he urged them to act with respect for each other’s views.
On Monday, in an e-mail provided by the university, Dr. William Staub, director of Athletic Bands; Chris Ulffers, director of the School of Music; and Dr. Chris Buddo, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, made the following statement:
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.
The Marching Pirates continue to be fully supportive of all the values the East Carolina University community holds dear.
We have met with the band and the members have collectively reaffirmed their commitment to the unique privilege and responsibility that comes with wearing the uniform of the Marching Pirates.
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.
When reached for comment, the university’s public relations team said the comments statements speak for themselves.
ECU student Cedrick Harris didn’t see a problem with the protests.
“I have deep military roots,” said Harris. “I don’t think it’s disrespectful in anyway shape or form. It would be disrespectful if you were to distract somebody else from showing their respect towards the flag, but taking a knee is not hurting anybody. So honestly a peaceful protest such as that; bringing awareness does no harm to nobody.”
Cameron Kirby, another ECU student, said he didn’t like the way some people reacted to the band members’ protest.
“Even if you don’t agree with their opinions, like doesn’t matter, they’re still humans,” said Kirby.
The movement began when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem before preseason games, citing racial injustice and police brutality.