Augustana University Holds Forum To Discuss NFL Controversy

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Controversy within the NFL started more than a year ago, when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem instead of standing. The move has sparked some to follow suit, and others to lash out. A discussion Thursday night at Augustana University aimed to bring people on both sides of this argument together.

“You hear all of this divisiveness, you hear things that’s going on in our society and 9 times out of 10 people don’t want to talk about,” says Mark Blackburn, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Augustana University.

To face the issue head on, four panel members, all veterans, are opening up about how they feel about the NFL protests. Two out of the four say it’s disrespectful.

“We take that flag very seriously,” says Clarence Kooistra, a Marine Corps Veteran. “I never thought in my life that I would kneel or sit down during the national anthem, or tolerate those that do.”

While the others think it’s needed. Not to put down the flag, but instead to stand up against police brutality.

“President Trump needed another shining ball, he made it about the flag,” says Army Veteran Paul Eugene Dysart Sr. “It’s about the rotten police, and see there again, it’s not about the police, it’s about the rotten police. If the police could pull their ranks and get those jerks out of there that are beating up and killing people, this problem would go away.”

“They have every right because equality is not there, justice is not there and also the human rights element are not there, so they have every right to be protesting, but there are other ways,” says Kooistra.

Those against kneeling argue the football field is not the right forum to protest. But, this forum — a room full of people open to conversation, is something everyone can agree is necessary.

“This is something that individuals need to be uncomfortable about and find solutions, come up with solutions and how we can move forward in our city,” says Blackburn.

The date for the forum was strategically planned. Organizers wanted to give Veterans a chance to have their opinions heard the night before the nation honors them, on Veteran’s Day.

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