MONROE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Two high school football referees are done for the season.
When students knelt during the national anthem, they decided to take a stand.
The protest and its response unfolded on a field in Monroe Township, N.J.
“We kneeled because of the things going on in American they are not right, like police brutality,” Kaylon Bradley told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare.
Bradley and three teammates have been kneeling all season, but Friday night at their home stadium in Middlesex County, two referees left the field to protest the players’ actions.
“It is what it is, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. They feel that way that’s okay,” Bradley said.
Those referees have been suspended by the Central New Jersey High School Officials Association.
Chairman Scott Heiser told CBS2 the association is, “assessing the behavior of our officials and whether it was irresponsible or unprofessional in any way.”
The refs move sparked strong opinions on both sides.
“I think they’re right showing their protest in their own way,” Cole Bebchick said, “I think it’s disgusting that people take a knee.”
“They should be there to support he players,” Funi Norris said.
“I think it’s their job to be there, and I understand their side of it, but they’re kids standing up for what they believe in,” Jules Paskell added.
Charles Koppleman heads the New Jersey Korean War Veterans Organization and he sees both sides of the argument.
“I support anybody for freedom of speech, if somebody wants to take a knee they should take the knee. At the same time I do support the flag, so there’s two ways to look at it,” he said.
A hearing will determine if the officials will be barred from ever doing another high school game.
The players said they’ve been surprised by some nasty reactions to their anthem protests.
“We all have friends that we don’t talk to anymore, teachers that don’t really like our actions, or cops who don’t appreciate what we are doing,” Kaylon Bradley said.
They players said no matter what happens with the referees they plan to continue their protest for their final two games of the season.
The football officials association will hold a hearing on the referees fate later this week.