Mike Oppong is one popular name on Facebook and Twitter. Oppong has more than 63,000 people on Facebook currently talking about his plight and loads of tweets about his situation coming into Twitter. Mike, a football player at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, took a knee during the national anthem last Friday.
As seen in the below tweet from Oppong’s Twitter page @Oppong_5, Mike reached out to all of those folks on Twitter and beyond who helped Oppong’s one-game suspension get lifted after Oppong took a knee during the national anthem.
Thanks to all your love and support my suspension of 1 game has been terminated! pic.twitter.com/a8RB9c200N— BLACK LIVES MATTER (@Oppong_5) September 12, 2016
The tweet about Oppong’s suspension being terminated came after the following Twitter post on Mike’s account went viral. On Sunday, September 11, Oppong published a tweet that declared his coaches and other leaders had decided to suspend him for one game due to his protest, which can be seen in the above photo of Mike taking a knee.
My coaches and principals have decided to suspend me for 1 game.— BLACK LIVES MATTER (@Oppong_5) September 11, 2016
As reported by MassLive.com, Oppong is a junior defensive back for the school who decided to join the national anthem protest in the same manner that many athletes around the world are doing: to take a knee or to sit during the national anthem.
Mike’s actions initially garnered Oppong the suspension, however, when Shaun King, a noted writer and activist who oftentimes uses his Twitter and Facebook pages to bring attention to plights of the disenfranchised, brought attention to Oppong’s suspension, Mike’s story when viral.
“We stand with you @Oppong_5! It’s not right that you have been suspended for taking a knee.”
On Sunday, September 11, King tweeted his support for Oppong on Twitter. That Twitter post swelled to more than 1.2 million retweets and 1.6 million likes on Twitter.
Oppong received plenty of feedback on Twitter and Facebook for his stance. Oppong’s Twitter account has retweeted plenty of posts in reaction to his initial tweet. Mike stated that he was not disrespecting veterans by enacting his protest prior to 9/11. Oppong wrote that he has the utmost respect for those who have served in the military, noting on Twitter that his protest was not about disrespecting military personnel.
“I have 100% respect for the veterans and the people who lost their lives on 9/11, this whole thing isn’t about them.”
As news of Oppong’s initial one-game suspension spread, so did outrage from folks who felt the school was violating Mike’s First Amendment rights for exercising his right to protest freely in the U.S.
Oppong did not violate his school’s rules, say Mike’s supporters on Facebook and Twitter, because he participated in a silent protest and did not create a disturbance by kneeling to the ground in silence. Instead, the school may have violated Oppong’s rights by punishing him for the protest.
Reactions to news of Oppong’s suspension can be seen in sample comments from Twitter and Facebook, as published below.
“I’m glad that the ACLU is getting involved.”
“This young man was suspended one game from his high school for a peaceful protest.
@oppong_5 #LandOfTheFree or is it?”
“Oppong_5 Continue to kneel in reverence for our ancestors who were abused and tortured to this theme song.”
“He never said the school administrator suspended him he said he was suspended from a game.”
“Oppong_5 Don’t let anyone tell you you’re disrespecting the military because you’re not. Keep protesting! Stay blessed!”
“I never lied I was called and told I’d be suspended for 1 game.”
“ShaunKing, Standing strong for what you know is right is always the better choice.”
“So disappointed in Doherty.”
As seen in the top photo above, several players with the Miami Dolphins team decided to kneel during the singing of the national anthem on Sunday, September 11.
[Photo by Stephen Brashear/AP Images]