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Residents to rally for Woodland Hills youth football players who kneeled during anthem |

Residents to rally for Woodland Hills youth football players who kneeled during anthem

A loosely organized group of “concerned citizens” plans to kneel in solidarity Sunday night with the Woodlands Hills youth football players who spurred controversy with their silent protest during the national anthem.

Coach Marcus Buckley Sr. said racial slurs were shouted at his team when three black players took to their knees during an Oct. 8 game in Bethel Park. They joined athletes around the country who have made kneeling during the anthem a national sign of protest to police brutality against blacks.

Young professionals across greater Pittsburgh joined Buckley in calling on Parkway Youth Football to conduct an independent investigation into the racist remarks directed at his players. They plan to show up in force at the 6:30 p.m. Sunday game at Wolvarena Stadium in Turtle Creek.

“We’re going out there really just to show that they have support, because a situation like that can be very traumatizing and difficult to process for 12- and 13-year-old kids,” said a spokeswoman for the group, Shanon Williams, 27, of Hazelwood. She is not affiliated with the youth football program but wanted to get involved after learning of the controversy from the news and social media.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, according to the group’s Facebook event page, about 60 people had confirmed and almost 200 people said they were interested in attending.

Bethel Park Junior Football board members have said they conducted an investigation and could find no evidence of racial slurs. Parkway Youth Football officials have declined comment.

The citizens group said in a release that it “hopes that the appropriate Bethel Park officials take ownership of the occurrence” and work to “help heal both communities.”

Its suggestions include meditation between the two teams, forums on diversity and guided discussions on race.

Natasha Lindstrom is a writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-380-8514 or [email protected].

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