JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - "We feel like the players should not be punished or targeted for exercising their right," Rennard Cheatham said.
When a picture surfaced of Bonnabel High School football players taking a knee during the national anthem last week, it disturbed members of the Bonnabel Alumni Association, which decided to cancel a week of activities surrounding an upcoming rival game and withdraw donations.
It also sparked a heated debate on social media.
"Seeing all the posts and all my alumni going through such distress, I was like, how it is that my alumni isn't supporting our boys?" Daisy Overton LaGrue said.
Overtone-LaGrue and others decided to create the Facebook page "Support our Bruins." So far, more than 1,500 people have joined. She said the group is planning to step up and support the Bonnabel football players.
"We are going to step in, and we are going to reach out to partners and local stores. Some have already given monetary donations. We are going to do our best to provide whatever it is that they need," Overton LaGrue said.
"We're actually going to replace all of those events that they've gone and canceled," Cheatham said.
The Alumni Association decided to take further action when an email sent to members read, in part, "Due to the despicable actions by players and supported by their coaching staff, a decision was made last evening to cancel a rivalry tournament fundraiser event." It went on to say, "Sad at it is, it's sadder that they will never understand what they have done and are doing to destroy our country's core values and beliefs and honor those that protect our rights."
"We support their right on saying we can protest for what it is, for what we believe in, and I support that. I support them taking a stand, taking a knee or whatever it is they believe," Overtone LaGrue said.
In addition to future donations, the newly formed group said they'll show up in force Friday night when Bonnabel takes on Landry Walker at 7 p.m. at Behrman Stadium.
"We've called out all the Bruins to come out and show support for this football team," Cheatham said.