Texas Youth Football Team to Continue Protesting Anthem Despite Death Threats

The team was originally inspired by Colin Kaepernick.

ByABC News
September 14, 2016, 3:49 PM

— -- The Beaumont Bulls, a youth football team in Beaumont, Texas, whose members are receiving death threats after following the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in protesting the national anthem over America's treatment of "blacks and people of color," as Kaepernick explained to NFL Media, will continue their demonstration, according to the team's coach and the mother of one of the players.

April Parkerson, the mother of 11-year-old running back Jaelun Parkerson, confirmed to ABC News that players on the team have received threatening messages. She said the team's protest of the national anthem "will continue."

Rah Rah Barber, the team's coach, concurred with Parkerson, saying he never imagined the response to the team's actions would "get to this point." He said the threats have showed "how far behind we are as a society."

The attention surrounding the team's protest started last Saturday, when Barber, along with his coaching staff and team, kneeled and placed their hands on each other's shoulders in silence before the playing of the national anthem.

Parkerson described this summer as a "turning point" in her son's awareness of race and politics and said he first wanted to take action after videos of the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were posted online.

"[Jaelun] asked me what we could do about it," Parkerson said. "So when news of Kaepernick's protest broke, a lightbulb went off. Then when Brandon Marshall joined in, he said, 'OK, we're going to do this.'"

Barber acknowledged Kaepernick as an influence as well and said he became motivated to read up on the history of the national anthem.

He added that one of his players approached him with a photo of the protests of the anthem and told him that the team wanted to join it.

"I said to the team, 'Do you know what this means?'" Barber said. "And they said that they did. So I went to their parents for their approval."

The Beaumont Bulls, a youth football team in Beaumont, Texas, are pictured in an undated handout photo.
Courtesy Rah Rah Barber

Speaking on behalf of her son, who was in school, Parkerson said that the purpose of the protest was not to insult the military or police but to show solidarity with other protesters and to help bring attention to issues of racial injustice.

She said the youth football league's board of directors gave permission for the team to stage the demonstration.

Still, permission and expressions of support from many people haven't stopped some from sending death threats to the team.

Parkerson sent ABC News screen shots of some of the threats, which have mostly been made on social media from people living outside Beaumont.

One Facebook user from Oklahoma called for Barber to be lynched.

"Hatred like that is everywhere," Parkerson said. "But there's also so much love."

Barber, who said he involves himself in youth football to keep kids off the streets, isn't fazed by the racist comments directed at him online.

"I ignore it," he said. "It's the kids I worry about. If they ever felt threatened, I would advise their parents to reach out to authorities."

ABC News contacted the Beaumont Police Department and the FBI to ask whether the threats against Bulls players and coaches are under investigation, but the calls were not immediately returned.

Parkerson, who is white and is married to a black man, said she and her son admire Kaepernick for what she described as the bravery he shows in taking a stand. She said her son, who is biracial like Kaepernick, felt inspired by him.

"Colin didn't have to take this subject on," she said. "But he decided to use the platform he had to speak up for people who have no voice."