A youth football team in Belleville, Illinois, knelt as the national anthem played before one of their recent games, according to Fox 2 Now.
Fox 2 Now on Monday reported that the Cahokia Quarterback Club football team performed the gesture last Sunday before a contest at Little Devil’s Field in Belleville.
The team consists of third graders eight-years-old and younger, and they were inspired by former National Football League (NFL) quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“One of the kids asked, ‘Can we do that?’” Coach Orlando Gooden said. “I said, ‘As long as we know why we’re doing it, I don’t have a problem with any of it.’”
Some Twitter users on Wednesday argued on whether or not the act was appropriate for children.
Gooden said he initially discussed Kaepernick with his team due to the recent unrest in St. Louis over interactions between police and minorities there.
“One of the kids asked me if I saw [people] protesting and rioting in St. Louis,” he said. “I said yes; I said, ‘Do you know why they are doing it?’”
“[It’s] because black people are getting killed and nobody’s going to jail,” Gooden added of a player’s response. “I felt like it was a good teaching moment for me to circle the team and have a meeting.”
“As long as I have the support of my parents and team, I’m perfectly fine, and I’m covered under the First Amendment to peacefully protest and assemble.”
St. Louis has experienced sometimes violent protests since last Friday’s acquittal of former city police officer Jason Stockley of a first-degree murder charge.
Stockley, who is white, shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old black man, following a high-speed chase in 2011.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, remains a free agent after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March.
The professional athlete has courted controversy by kneeling for the national anthem since 2016 to protest how police treat minorities.