MoCo student knows personally why pro-athletes take a knee

Here at Montgomery College, we sometimes tend to get comfortable in the safe haven our students and faculty have made for us here, but it is important to remember there is a world with entirely different climates just outside our campus, even just down the street on East Montgomery Ave.

My brother, Landon Terry, is a student here at MC who knows firsthand what the polarization of our young people has done and is perhaps the most authentic example of the inequality pro-athletes are fighting to eliminate by taking a knee.

Last year following the presidential election high schools throughout Montgomery County conducted student walk-outs in protest of the then president-elect Donald Trump. One of those high schools made headlines when the protest, which was intended to be completely peaceful, went awry.

Landon was one of five other students at Richard Montgomery High School who got involved in a physical altercation during the walk-out protest. He explained the sequence of events as such (the names of all those who did not consent to have their names involved in this publication will be omitted or altered to protect their rights to privacy):

“One kid wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat started messing with some of the other kids there, like doing Nazi salutes, saying the ‘N’ word and the ‘F’ word and after a while this kid named Ryan went over and flipped his hat off his head to retaliate but he didn’t like hurt him or anything he just wanted to mess with him for being obnoxious. But the kid with the hat got really mad for some reason and just punched Ryan in his face and then they started fighting and two others kids jumped in so it was like a full-on fight by that time. I didn’t get involved until I saw that one of the kids fighting was a friend of mine and that he was on the ground underneath the kid with the hat so I grabbed the back of his shirt to pull him off. But pretty much right after that, the police were there.”

The events following this altercation took an interesting turn due to the involvement of law enforcement. Shortly after the fight, Landon, as well as three other boys involved in the fight (all of whom are minorities), discovered they were being charged with assault while the initial aggressor (who is white) was the one pressing charges.

After speaking with a number of other students present the day of the walk-out, they all corroborated that it was the white student who threw the first punch, but it was only he out of all the five boys involved not to be charged with a crime. Landon, who became involved in the fight at only the very last moment, knew something was very wrong with the whole situation.

“We were all wrong. And in that case, we all should have been punished in the same way. I felt like he and his parents were coming after me the most, because one of the kids’- his father was a diplomat so he had immunity, and another kid’s parents got him a really good lawyer. So then it was like pretty much just me. It felt so wrong but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do because everyone was mad but I felt like they weren’t seeing how wrong the whole situation was. Even the news was making it look like we were all some like violent brown kids who just attacked this random white kid for no reason. In one article this random lady said that she had to throw her body on top of the white kid to protect him from all of us and I was just like are you serious? You literally were not even there.”

We see situations like this a lot, and certainly, one’s own political perspectives will influence how they look at them and what opinions they will form. But in this specific scenario, there is a clear inequity of justice present.

The nation has seen the beloved athletes of our favorite football teams exercise their first amendment rights to protest. Some would argue that this behavior was extremely divisive to an already divided nation, while others argue this type of activism is necessary to remedy the broken state our country is currently in.The former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, was the first pro-athlete to take a knee in protest of what he considers to be an abundance of unacknowledged racial injustice in our country. Could a situation like this be what he meant by racial injustice? Maybe or maybe not.

After the charges, Terry went to court after his parents hired a lawyer. He was sentenced with community service and an expungement of his records after they were completed.

Students like Landon have a long history of paving the way for the oppressed and calling out inequality wherever they see it, regardless of who the perpetrators are.