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The Beacon

How one gesture can change a season

Adan Mohamud, Reporter

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Harding was in awe as they heard news going around the school of a silent protest displayed by boys swimmer, Jeremiah Cotter. Jeremiah, who is a senior, took a knee during the national anthem and was met by mixed responses. He was met with praise and criticism by many students in school and on social media. He took a knee twice on separate occasions, once during a swim meet, and the other during the color guard presentation during Pepfest.

The gesture wasn’t the only thing that had caught the attention of faculty and the student body, it was also a rumor that the swimming coaches were going to step down as a result of this silent protest. This rumor, however, was squashed by an anonymous source who is in the swimming team. “People have the first amendment right and the higher-ups have to find a way to work through it, as I will still stand for the flag and the people who died for it,” said the anonymous source.

Emme Vang, a senior who is on the swim team, had a positive view on Jeremiah’s decision. “I thought he was brave for doing that and standing up for what he believes in,” said Emme. “I feel like as students we are given a lot of opportunities to do many things, including this. They shouldn’t discourage what we are trying to do, they should push us to stand up for what we believe in. We are the next generation, we can never live up to their ‘standards.’”

Karinna Borgstrom, who is also a senior on the swim team, had respect for Jeremiah’s decision to express his views. “Jeremiah is entitled to whatever opinions he has, and he has rights to express those opinions,” she said. “I feel as though the coaches didn’t know how to deal with the situation from the start and they struggled to understand where he was coming from. I think that it’s a touchy subject for the coaches and everyone involved because they have never been put in a situation like this.”

Jeremiah Cotter had plenty to say about his stance and why it means so much to him to display it. “This was not intended to be an insult and was not directed at anyone directly,” he said. “This was a way to get the attention of the other students and staff in our community. We are taught that the people who serve in the military, those who serve for freedom of speech do this for all citizens. They were demonstrating this right. We want the people of this community to be aware of the injustices that are still being shown to Native people, the awareness of Standing Rock. This was our way of getting the attention we wanted. Many teachings in today’s curriculum are not the truth. These students want their generation to be the speakers for future generations. The reaction from many staff was not respectable and should not have been allowed. We used it as a symbol to show that we want our rights understood and respected and that was the way everyone was going to hear our voices.”

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The student news site of Harding High School
How one gesture can change a season