“3, 2, 1. End injustice together:” App State football leads peaceful protest through Boone

On+Friday%2C+App+State+football+led+a+protest+on+racial+injustice+through+the+streets+of+Boone+and+the+campus.

Andy McLean

On Friday, App State football led a protest on racial injustice through the streets of Boone and the campus.

Silas Albright, Sports Editor

It was Easter Sunday. A friend was driving a friend from North Carolina back home to Florida for his mother’s funeral. They were pulled over by police. 

The two friends were asked to step out of the vehicle and put their hands on the back of their heads, which they did. Ten cop cars were on the scene by this point. The police claimed they pulled them over because of their rental car’s Georgia license plate. 

App State defensive lineman Elijah Diarrassouba was in the driver’s seat of that car, taking his teammate Demetrius Taylor to Florida.

“Soub, stay cool. Soub, stay cool,” Taylor reminded his friend repeatedly as the situation unfolded.

The police searched the car and didn’t find anything. Eventually, they let Diarrassouba and Taylor, both Black men, go on their way. 

“To address the problem, (you’ve) got to realize the problem exists itself,” Diarrassouba said.

App State senior defensive end Elijah Diarrassouba took the lead on speaking to the group gathered at Peacock hall. (Andy McLean)

On Friday evening, App State football led a peaceful protest against racial injustice through the town of Boone and the university’s campus. The sign at the front of the group had just three words on it: end injustice together.

The protest comes a day after the team elected to cancel practice and instead use the time to talk about racial injustice and share thoughts and experiences. 

“We said if we’re going to make a change it has to be together,” head coach Shawn Clark said on Thursday after the cancelation of practice. He also stressed the importance of action over words. 

Five days before the protest, police shot seven times at Jacob Blake’s back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

On Wednesday, NBA teams boycotted playoff games to bring attention to racial injustice. Many teams in different sports and levels across the country also halted play, practices or team activities, including MLB, NFL and college football teams. 

Fellow App State teams and organizations also participated in the protest, including women’s basketball, women’s soccer, volleyball, and the Black Student Association. App State administrators, coaches, staff and community members attended the demonstration, too. 

At 5:25 p.m., the group started the march outside of Kidd Brewer Stadium and made its way down Stadium Drive, marching along Rivers Street and cutting through Raley parking lot to King Street. They marched the downtown stretch of King Street before looping back and congregating on and around the stairs of Peacock Hall.

Diarrassouba addressed the crowd first, sharing he and Taylor’s experience on Easter Sunday.

Diarrassouba, a redshirt senior, went on to say he realizes his status as a student athlete is going to expire sooner than later. 

 

He knows he’ll lose the protection and support that comes with the title of student athlete when he graduates App State, and he credited this as a reason for speaking out.

While Diarrassouba spoke, it began to rain, but nobody flinched.

At one point, Diarrassouba’s voice rose and became more passionate, as he publicly shared challenges he has encountered because of his race. 

“I come from the police pulling guns on me,” Diarrassouba said. “I come from all that, man,” he said, slamming the sign he was holding to the ground in frustration.

My mama always told me, ‘One day it’s going to get better if you stand for what you believe in, and don’t (ever) let nobody change that about you.’ That’s the reason why I do what I do.”

— Elijah Diarrassouba

“I come from that,” he continued. “But I don’t have hate toward nobody, because my mama always told me, ‘One day it’s going to get better if you stand for what you believe in, and don’t (ever) let nobody change that about you.’ That’s the reason why I do what I do. That’s it, it’s not political.” 

Cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles shared thoughts next. 

“It’s not going to take just one collective group,” he said. “It’s going to take everybody, but it’s possible, bruh. If everybody puts their foot down and really pushes for this, it could happen. It could really happen. I have aspirations of having children someday, and I don’t want them to have to experience some of the stuff that Soub had to experience, I had to experience.”

After Diarrassouba and Jean-Charles finished speaking, Diarrassouba thanked attendees for coming out and supporting the cause, and invited everyone to put their hands in and break it down. 

“3, 2, 1. End injustice together,” the crowd yelled out in unison.