Three cheerleaders at Southern Illinois University Carbondale took a knee during the national anthem before a game on Sept. 30 and received “death threats and sexual assault threats” afterward, but received mixed reaction at the next game when they again knelt for the anthem.
They plan to continue kneeling during the anthem for the remainder of the football season.
“These people know our faces and names now. And we’re getting death threats and sexual assault threats, and being called the N-word so many times,” cheerleader Alaysia Brandy told the Southern Illinoisian. “They’re not going to scare us.”
The university said the threats are under investigation, but told KFVS Channel 12 that “none of the members of the squad were the subject of direct threats, and no other credible threats have been identified.”
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The investigation is ongoing.
The three cheerleaders, Alaysia Brandy, Ariahn Hunt and Czarina Tinker, also knelt at the homecoming game on Oct. 14. The three are African-American; most of the team’s cheerleaders are white.
“People are making it seem like we’re acting out. We’re on our knees, we’re not saying anything, we’re just kneeling. It’s a peaceful protest,” Tinker said.
The campus at Edwardsville no longer has cheer or dance teams at athletic events, including basketball games. The cheer and dance teams were cut from the SIUE Athletics at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, according to Michelle Deets, of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The school’s cheer and dance teams are now a competition program under Campus Recreation.