High-school football: Garfield protests again at SWAC, to ‘work toward a better future together’

7:27 PM: For the second consecutive Friday night, Garfield High School is the visiting opponent at Southwest Athletic Complex in West Seattle. And again before the game, its team and cheerleaders (in foreground of second photo below) knelt during the pre-game anthem:


No players from this week’s home team, Chief Sealth International High School, players joined in tonight (last week, seven West Seattle HS players did), though one person on the sidelines with them knelt:


Garfield’s team issued a statement this week to clarify the intent of its protest, which the team says it will continue at each game this season. We obtained the statement through GHS:

Recently Garfield High School’s football team took a knee at an evening game. In an effort to clarify their position and better articulate the thought behind it, Garfield’s Football Team held an inclusive meeting … to put the team’s position into writing.

Garfield Football Team – We have increasingly heavy hearts over various issues that have been escalating in the media.

Many of us have been touched in some way in our own personal lives by racism, segregation and bias.

Through a series of open, honest and supportive conversations we have reached a team consensus and understanding.

We have unanimously decided to take a position as a team and work towards a better future together. We are going to demonstrate this decision through taking a knee at our games.

We are asking for the community and our leaders to step forward to meet with us and engage in honest dialogue. It is our hope that out of these potentially uncomfortable conversations positive, impactful change will be created.

At this time, the Garfield High School Football Team is especially concerned with the following:

1. Equality for all regardless of race, gender, class, social standing and/or sexual orientation – both in and out of the classroom as well as the community.

2. Increase of unity within the community. Changing the way the media portrays crime. White people are typically given justification while other minorities are seen as thugs, etc.

3. Academic equality for students. Certain schools offer programs/tracks that are not available at all schools or to all students within that school. Better opportunities for students who don’t have parental or financial support is needed. For example, not everyone can afford Advanced Placement (AP) testing fees and those who are unable to pay those fees, are often not encouraged to enroll into those programs. Additionally, the academic investment doesn’t always stay within the community.

4. Lack of adequate training for teachers to interact effectively with all students. Example, “Why is my passion mistaken for aggression?” “Why when I get an A on a test, does the teacher tell me, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could pull that off.’”

5. Segregation through classism.

6. Getting others to see that institutional racism does exist in our community, city, state, etc.

In an effort to find solutions and create impactful change, Garfield Football is stepping forward as leaders within the Garfield Community and Seattle. As a first step towards finding solutions, Garfield Football will be pursuing the following:

1. Meetings with the local police leaders to share personal experiences and hear from officers and leaders on what their experience is and what changes we might be able to work together on.

2. Meetings with students in classes where diversity is lacking. Speaking at assemblies and with local youth groups and/or programs.

3. Meetings with school staff to include teachers and administration. Embarking on open dialogue about what triggers the negative experiences and interactions.

Garfield Football has set a course of action and we will see it through. Together United and Garfield Strong. Our Garfield Football mandate is TOP. Totally Optimizing Potential and we will demonstrate TOP both on the field and off.


The game is under way now at SWAC and we will report on it separately after it’s over.

11 Replies to "High-school football: Garfield protests again at SWAC, to 'work toward a better future together'"

  • Marty McLaren September 23, 2016 (9:14 pm)

    I want to express my solidarity with the Garfield HS football players who took a knee during the national anthem at their game last Friday and again tonight.  I have tremendous admiration and appreciation for their act and for their reasoning. To me, this powerful gesture signals our students’ courage and willingness to deal with reality:  they are acknowledging the tragic disconnect between the ideals of our national identity, and the grotesque injustices that recur with horrible regularity, stemming from our nation’s history of political complicity in slavery.  And, they are pointing towards ways to embrace the challenges we face and to work through them. 

    Bravo to the team!

    Thanks to WSB for giving this the coverage it merits.

    Marty McLaren

  • rob September 23, 2016 (9:49 pm)

      yea yea but who won the game? i hope are local boys pull off an up set over another big public school that recruits players

    • WSB September 23, 2016 (9:53 pm)

      As noted, we’ll have the game story separately later. But since you ask, I did mean to note that as usual we were tweeting throughout the game – it ended a few minutes ago. Garfield 65, Sealth 0.

  • pam September 23, 2016 (10:13 pm)

    Ditto what Marty said, I am extremely proud of this team and their leaders.  They have come together and put a lot of thought into their action.  These young people are our future and they are heading into a storm that is brewing and has been brewing for hundreds of years in this country.  It looks like they are moving forward together with the support of their school, families and community, together they will make a difference, I am beyond proud.

  • Mike September 24, 2016 (5:54 am)

    This part of the statement by GHS is the most important one (I believe) to understand and is a core driver of the division growing within the USA.

    Changing the way the media portrays crime.  White people are typically given justification while other minorities are seen as thugs, etc.

    That is the biggest hurdle for minorities, being perceived as criminals and/or potential threats (by many, not all) before being seen as  friends and allies in our communities.

    Changing police training and working on deescalation techniques (as Doug Baldwin is pushing for) AND demanding that media stop the bias and racial profiling when reporting news, will have the greatest impact on making change for the better.

    Write to your government leaders and demand change.

  • Sealth parent September 24, 2016 (9:41 am)

    As a long time Sealth parent (6 years running now), I want to say how disappointed I am that no one from Sealth joined with the Garfield players.  This is a national issue that has a lot of local importance as well, and since the Garfield players protested in this way last week there was plenty of time for them to consider how to support them.  A real opportunity to show leadership was missed.  

    • csihs student September 24, 2016 (4:41 pm)

      I agree, being a supporter of the protest, I tried to encourage players to join. I think they’re scared because the coach doesn’t tolerate not joining in for the pledge or anthem.. from what I’ve heard.

      • Sealth parent September 24, 2016 (5:04 pm)

        I think they need a new coach – I thought even before they brought him back. 

  • AMD September 24, 2016 (10:58 am)

    Very proud of these students and their mentors at Garfield for creating an environment where this kind of discussion and peaceful protest are supported.  I’m doubly impressed that their concerns weren’t just a repeat of what others media figures are saying, but dug deeper to identify other issues that are very real and felt every day by these players (AP testing and classism among others).  Bravo, GHS!

  • alyca September 24, 2016 (11:19 am)

    I cannot express enough how very proud I am of those young men.  The civics lessons they are both learning and teaching others through this peaceful protest.  So impressive.  I love, love, love the letter laying out their concerns and some of the steps they have identified to try to make things better.  Talk about preparing students for adulthood!

  • Sooz September 24, 2016 (6:16 pm)

    I am so honored to know a couple of these players and their coach. They are setting the bar high for the rest of our city and the US. Gratitude to the entire organization for these thoughtful and powerful statements, both on and off the field!

    And, congrats on the win :)

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