Ole Miss’ football team didn’t practice Friday and instead marched to The Square in downtown Oxford, Mississippi, to bring awareness to racial injustice in the country.
Coach Lane Kiffin participated in the march, and some of the players carried signs that read: End police brutality.
Once at the Square, members of the team gathered around a Confederate statue and began chanting “No justice, no peace” as well as “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter.”
Linebacker Jacquez Jones posted a picture on his Twitter feed Friday of the players standing in front of the statue. His tweet read: Stand Up For Nothing, Fall For Anything #BLM.
— Jacquez Jones (@ESPN_Jac) August 28, 2020
“As the Ole Miss football family, we are committed to change,” the players said in a statement released by the school. “Police brutality and other injustices occurring across our nation have to end, and our team stands united to embrace our diversity and promote a culture of peace, equality and understanding. Regardless of our backgrounds, we all need to listen to each other and learn to respect and love our differences.”
“I met with our leadership council last night and asked how they wanted to make their voices heard,” Kiffin said. “It was a good discussion, and this morning, the team decided to march in unity and use their platform to send a message. I’m proud of our players coming together for justice and change. We are going to continue to work together to improve the world around us for everyone.”
In June, the Ole Miss players called for the statue, which sits in front of the Lafayette County Courthouse, to be removed. In a video, several players, including defensive end Ryder Anderson, running back Jerrion Ealy and linebacker MoMo Sanogo, asked the Lafayette Board of Supervisors to move the statue from its current location.
At Oklahoma, players marched to the university’s Unity Garden, where coach Lincoln Riley spoke to reporters about the conversations the team has had regarding social justice issues, including yesterday after practice.
— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) August 28, 2020
“Those conversations have been tough. They’ve been eye-opening,” Riley said. “They’ve been very emotional, very tense. They’ve given every person there not only an opportunity to express themselves, but also, maybe more importantly, an opportunity to listen to what other people have gone through, their experiences. To stop thinking about ourselves every waking second and think about our brothers and our sisters, and what they’re going through and how we can help.”
After Riley spoke, the Sooners paused to take a 57-second moment of silence in honor of Friday being the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
David Wilson contributed to this story.