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Denver school board member won't stand for pledge to protest police shootings of people of color

Posted: 6:28 PM, Dec 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-20 07:24:03-05
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DENVER – Denver School Board Director Tay Anderson sat through the Pledge of Allegiance at Thursday’s school board meeting – something the newly-elected member says he will continue to do to protest police shootings of people of color.

“As a Black man, I am reminded today and every day of the injustices that still exist in our society,” Anderson wrote in a statement. “I am remaining seated as a representative for those who were not afforded the right to be here today. Those whose lives and liberties were taken from them, and those still fighting for theirs.”

Anderson stayed seated during the pledge at Thursday’s meeting as he wore the jersey of Colin Kaepernick, who was among those who started the protests of police shootings by kneeling during the National Anthem before NFL games and who has not been re-signed by a team since he started doing so.

In his announcement, Anderson cited the fatal police shootings of 13 people of color across the country, saying they “all could’ve been me.”

“Today, and for every meeting in the future, I have decided not to stand because we need our leaders to have the courage to fight alongside communities in sending a clear message that we will not stand while white supremacy is thriving,” Anderson said. “We will not stand while Black and Brown people are being murdered by those who are supposed to ‘protect and serve’ our communities.”

Denver Public Schools spokesman Will Jones released the following statement about Anderson's choice on Thursday evening:

“One of the great things about our country is the ability of all individuals express their beliefs with the rights afforded to them by the First Amendment. This right is not lost when a person is elected to become a member of the Board of Education,” Jones said in the statement. “Board Secretary Anderson has a Constitutional right to express his beliefs by sitting out the Pledge of Allegiance. As a Board, we respect and support our colleague’s right to freedom of expression and are committed to protecting that critical right for all people.”