IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - Alexandria Yakes is a junior at the University of Iowa. She wants to raise awareness on police brutality against African Americans.
Kinnick Stadium on the University of Iowa campus Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)
She says, "It may not be a huge issue in Iowa City, but that doesn't mean that we can sit here and pretend like it's not happening everywhere else.”
She wants to help, but feels she shouldn’t lead the charge since she is white, and doesn’t experience it from a black person’s perspective. She says, “Start to build a coalition of student groups and community groups who are closer to this issue and have more experience talking about problems like this to take over."
That's why she's organizing a protest during Saturday’s homecoming game. She’s asking the student section, and anyone else who feels like joining to kneel, or raise their fist during the National Anthem.
She explains, "We are not protesting the flag, we are not protesting the military. I even said please sing along to the national anthem while you're protesting."
Some students say they plan to kneel with her. Sooraj Moham Saskena says "The issue is very serious regarding discrimination on the basis of a person's race or the color of their skin. It's something that needs to be brought into the limelight."
Marqeze Hondras adds, “You see the police brutality you see the 400 hundred years of oppression. So yeah I'm most definitely for it."
Evan Hrabek's brother was in the Navy. He thinks kneeling is disrespectful to the military and the flag. He says, "If you feel that police brutality has been over and above, and some people have done that I think there is a way to get through it. I just don't know doing it during a national anthem during a game is really the right way to do it."
Yakes says she’s not trying to be disrespectful. She just wants to use Saturday’s game to bring attention to the issue. She says, "We've been having this conversation for long enough that if you just ask an activist or ask somebody who supports the movement, ask them why they're doing it and I can say with confidence that none of them are going to say they're doing it to protest the flag, protest the national anthem, or protest the military."
The University of Iowa responded to the planned protest in a statement saying “The University of Iowa values the First Amendment and freedom of expression. Civil discourse and the respectful exchange of ideas are the cornerstones of higher education and this great institution.”