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Cheerleaders Take a Knee, School District Receives Threats

Courtney Cameron

The Cornell School District has received an estimated five or six hundred phone calls and emails in the aftermath of a video released on social media criticizing the actions of a high school cheerleading squad that took a knee during the National Anthem at a home game September 30.

The video calls out protesters for being blatantly disrespectful to members of a local veterans group who were invited to act as the color guard during the game. It also accuses superintendent Aaron Thomas of having prior knowledge of the protest and collaborating to bring veterans to the game to watch. Makers of the video then shared the school board’s phone number and email address and encouraged viewers to voice their discontent.

The histrionic response due to the video is causing a real safety concern in the Cornell community, where police have been stationed at the school as well as in the neighborhood where superintendent Thomas lives. Thomas told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he had heard rumors that there would be some kind of protest at a previous away game, but when nothing manifested he did not suspect that something was still in the works. Though he claims no part in the orchestration of the protest, police behavior suggests that he may still be in danger of retribution for his perceived participation.

Due to the threatening nature of many calls received by the school board, changes have been made to the homecoming festivities scheduled for the weekend, the first Cornell High has had to look forward to since the school’s football team returned after a four-year hiatus due to low participation. The kickoff has been moved up to the afternoon and superintendent Thomas has announced that only the parents of student-athletes will be allowed to attend the game, shutting out student spectators for their own safety and the safety of the team. Weekend homecoming events for Cornell are postponed indefinitely.

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