Woman arrested at Midland football game during protests - WNEM TV 5

Woman arrested at Midland football game during protests

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Credit: Midland County Sheriff's Office Credit: Midland County Sheriff's Office
MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -

A woman was arrested at the Midland versus Midland Dow football game Friday night.

The woman was at the game protesting, but she was not with the group of students protesting racial inequality or the veterans protesting the disrespect of the flag.

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She was arrested for trespassing.

Prior to the arrest, controversy surrounded the game as groups planned separate protests during the National Anthem.

Members of the Students for Social Justice said they would lock arms during the National Anthem to protest racial inequality. Several veterans planned to counter-protest for what they said is disrespecting the flag. 

"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 planned to kneel during the National Anthem at Oct. 20's football game between Midland and Midland Dow.

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.

Those students involved in the protest spoke out to explain their message and intent.

“Prior to the Midland-Dow football game, a group of students will be standing and linking arms during the National Anthem at 6:45 under the scoreboard; this will not occur on the field,” a letter from Students for Social Justice of Midland said.

The students said they are protesting racial inequality. They said the intent of the silent protest is to stand in unity and bring to light the “racial injustices faced by People of Color in this world.”

“We hope to give speech to those who feel speechless; to give hope for those who feel hopeless; and to represent those who feel forgotten,” the letter said.

The letter went on to say the group has decided to stand and link arms instead of kneel.

“If kneeling was the main cause of concern, this is our solution. As a group of students whose sole purpose is to actively make change for the better, we’ve made this adjustment not as a way of backing down, but as a way to make our message more direct,” the letter read.

“We are not disrespecting former or current members of the military, the flag, police officers, or this country,” the statement said.

A group of veterans planned 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 attend 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.

"The flag is an emblem that drapes the casket of a dead soldier. So to disrespect the flag is to disrespect a dead soldier," Johnson said.

Both of the protests remained peaceful, but an independent protester was arrested for refusing to move away from the flag when the principal asked her to.

>>Read the full statement from students<<

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