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Mizzou football players join campus racial protest

By Dave Matter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Racial tension on the University of Missouri’s campus could soon impact Mizzou athletics. MU football players will apparently stop participating in team activities until university system president Tim Wolfe resigns.

A message circulated on Twitter on Saturday night featuring a photo of 32 African-American Mizzou football players, some locked arm in arm along with the following message: “The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere’ We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”

On Sunday, head coach Gary Pinkel expressed solidarity with his players on Twitter by posting a picture of the team and coaches locking arms. The tweet on Sunday read: “The Mizzou Family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.”


Most Missouri players declined comment on the situation when leaving the team facility after an approximate 90-minute meeting with coaches that started at 10 a.m. Sunday. After the meeting, team spokesman Chad Moller said the team would eventually release a statement on the situation.

While walking out of the facility, tight end Jason Reese said the team was originally scheduled to practice Sunday but will not practice. Asked when the team will resume practicing, Reese said, “After this gets resolved.”

On Saturday night, the Twitter account for the school’s Legion of Black Collegians posted the message and photo. Several players in the photo have since retweeted the photo.

Among those players in the photo are star linebacker Kentrell Brothers, defensive end Charles Harris, tailbacks Russell Hansbrough and Ish Witter and several other starters and backup players.

Mizzou football team spokesman Chad Moller released the following statement: “The department of athletics is aware of the declarations made tonight by many of our student-athletes. We all must come together with leaders from across our campus to tackle these challenging issues and we support our student-athletes right to do so.”

Several players tweeted about the protest Saturday, including cornerbacks John Gibson and Finis Stribling, safeties Thomas Wilson and Anthony Sherrils and linebacker Clarence Green among others. In response to another tweet, Gibson wrote the boycott “has nothing to do with our coaches. Our coaches are 100 percent behind us. Including the white ones.” He later deleted the tweet.

Linebacker Grant Jones, the son of running backs coach Brian Jones, tweeted, “If anyone’s mistaken the 32 players that are in the picture are not the only players participating in the boycott.”

Missouri’s football team played Thursday, losing to Mississippi State to fall to 4-5, and does not play again until Saturday’s game against Brigham Young in Kansas City.

Mizzou student Jonathan Butler has been staging a hunger strike since Monday, saying he won’t eat until Wolfe steps down. Butler has been critical of the system president for the way he’s handled several racial incidents on campus. Butler was pictured in the photo featuring the 32 Mizzou players.

Wolfe met with Butler and representatives of several student organizations Friday, The Associated Press and other news outlets reported. In a statement released Friday, Wolfe called Butler an important voice for social justice and said he was concerned about Butler’s health.

(c)2015 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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