Protests Keep EMU Football Team off Field for National Anthem

The game was never disrupted and the protests ended up being largely peaceful.

Signs of a planned protest by students during Eastern Michigan University’s football game Sept. 23 led school officials to keep players and band members off the field for the opening ceremonies.

Protesting students chanted and held up their fists throughout the home game against Wyoming University but didn’t enter the playing field until the game’s conclusion. The star spangled banner was also played earlier than normal in an attempt to diffuse tensions and mitigate protest risks.

Although the protests ended up being largely peaceful, EMU officials say their decision was based on considerations for the “safety and security of everyone involved,” reports

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EMU officials have dealt with a spate of protests in the past week, including massive road blocks and marches involving hundreds of students, following the discovery of multiple pieces of racist graffiti on campus.

The protests began Sept. 20 when the letters “KKK” were found spray painted on a courtyard wall in Julia Anne King Hall. Hundreds of students marched through campus and to the home of university President James Smith in response to that discovery.

President Smith took questions and talked with students during that protest, assuring the protesters that the school would take short and long term actions to address their diversity concerns.

Since then, Smith has increased police presence on campus and created an online anonymous submission form for the campus community to submit questions, concerns and requests regarding race on campus.

Before the game Sept. 23, students entering Rynearson Stadium received notes discouraging students from disrupting the game and reminding them that such actions are in violation of the law.

University officials have also posted a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the people responsible for the graffiti.

Footage of the game’s live broadcast has been included below.

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