Students planning to protest during National Anthem will face pr - WNEM TV 5

Students planning to protest during National Anthem will face protesting veterans

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MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -

The Midland Public School District issued a statement on the national controversy involving the protests during the National Anthem at football games.

"While some may be offended by peaceful acts during the Anthem, actions that do not create a disruption are within students' constitutional rights," Superintendent Michael Sharrow said in the statement.

The statement was issued after the district learned some students do not intend to stand during the National Anthem at Oct. 20's football game between Midland and Midland Dow. The students are protesting racial inequality.

The statement went on to say the district encourages all audience members to stand and be respectful during the anthem.

"Midland does not sanction this type of activity. Indeed, the district believes that patriotism and love of country should be encouraged and celebrated as reflected in our school policies," the statement read.

Sharrow said he released the statement because he wanted to make sure the community knew where the district stood.

"We think the football game, the National Anthem is not the appropriate venue to do a protest. But it is absolutely the students' rights to be able to do so," Sharrow said.

Military veteran Matt Rassette served so students can protest peacefully.

"There's a part of me that appreciates the fact that young people in our community are getting involved in issues," Rassette said.

But he wants those same students to honor the flag that gives them the right to do so.

"I'm very proud of our flag. I'm proud of our national heritage. And I believe that every American should show proper respect and go ahead and stand for our National Anthem," Rassette said.

As for Sharrow, he said he will safeguard his students regardless of whether they stand, sit or kneel.

"We would encourage them not to, but we are certainly going to allow them to and we are going to protect them with their right to be able to do so," Sharrow said.

Sharrow said he talked to students involved in the planned protest.

He said the organizers are very peaceful and receptive to the district's concerns.

A group of veterans are planning their own protest against the students.

"We have a peaceful protest planned. We would like to just oppose the opposition that are against our National Anthem, whether that be the taking of a knee or interlocking arms. The appropriate way to show respect is to stand at attention," said Lee Johnson, veteran.

Johnson said the issue is of the utmost importance right now.

"Certain people are trying to make this into a racial issue. The flag is not about a racial issue. The flag has always represented liberty and freedom," Johnson said.

Sharrow said Johnson is welcome to come to the game and participate just like any other paying fan, as long as all sides do so peacefully. He added no fans will be allowed on the field before the game.

You can read the full statement here.

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