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Laurel County Sheriff handing out free shirts in exchange for UK gear after anthem protest

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 5:27 PM EST
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LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team all kneeled during the national anthem before Saturday’s road game against Florida. The protest sent shockwaves through Big Blue Nation.

The university is standing behind its players and coaches, but some fans are not.

Among them, Laurel County Sheriff John Root and Jailer Jamie Mosley who publicly burned some of their UK apparel in a Facebook video Sunday evening.

“And this is what I think about the program...coach until you get them under control and lead by example,” Root said, as he tossed a UK shirt into a fire.

Root is encouraging other fans to trade in their UK shirts for one supporting first responders.

One fan trading in his gear at the Laurel County Jail said, “If they can’t stand for the flag and get a free education, I don’t need to support them.”

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto released a statement Monday:

A value we all hold dear in our country is the right of free speech and self-expression. That right for young students such as these is important, too, as they learn, grow, and find out who they are and what they believe. We won’t always agree on every issue. However, we hope to agree about the right of self-expression, which is so fundamental to who we are as an institution of higher learning. We live in a polarized and deeply divided country. Our hope – and that of our players and our coaches – is to find ways to bridge divides and unify.

Several UK players defended their stance and talked about the reaction to it during Monday’s scheduled news conference

“We are just trying to make a peaceful protest. Trying to get through that we need equality like everybody else,” said UK freshman forward Isaiah Jackson.

Senior forward Olivier Sarr added, “We didn’t talk about it. Obviously, we knew that people would react in a certain way. But as always, you always do something, you have people pleased, others that aren’t.”

UK’s president, as well as athletic director Mitch Barnhart, also said that they are always hoping to find ways to bridge the divides and find unity.

Root and Mosley say all the shirts they collect will be given to those in need in the community.

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