By Biko McMillan
Editor’s note: This article is in response to this op-ed published on Sept. 26
On November 24th, 2014, Tamir Rice was gunned down while playing outside by police, receiving national attention.
On July 6th, 2016, Philando Castile was gunned down by police during a routine traffic stop, receiving national attention. This also took place in front of his girlfriend, her four year-old child and anyone else watching the Facebook Live stream of the situation.
These two individuals, as well as Rekia Boyd (2012), Oscar Grant (2009), Amadou Diallo (1999), and a myriad of other unarmed black people have been killed by the hands of police officers who were not brought to justice.
It speaks volumes that there are people more upset about a group of students kneeling during the National Anthem than they are about lives being unjustifiably taken by those who are sworn to serve and protect us. This type of selective, convenient anger is very different from our anger born out of survival.
On the issue of accountability, these students being removed from the band and losing their scholarships would undoubtedly be more punishment than the police officers from the previously mentioned cases received for unjustifiably taking a life. Us as demonstrators are clear on where our priorities lie, but we question whether or not the same can be said for many who are critical of the demonstration.
This country is bigger than this school. We have people who look to the US to be a place of freedom. To see people who look like myself be killed unjustifiably under the cover of the law is not acceptable to me.
We get that you’re upset about the demonstration, truly we do. But we’re also upset about a system that protects murderous policemen. So until we see the words “land of the free” apply to the many oppressed groups in this country, we will gladly protest the anthem.
Dialogue is, of course, welcome but we seek no one’s permission to stand up (or kneel) for the right to live in these United States.
Biko McMillan is a senior Spanish Major on the premed track. He was born and raised in the Virgin Islands.