The Kennesaw State University cheerleaders known as the Kennesaw Five issued a group statement Wednesday in response to a report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution documenting political pressure to keep them off the field during the anthem at football games:
“We are deeply dishearten[ed] by the revelations revealed in these messages. We were exercising our 1st amendment rights in the most American way possible. We took a knee for a purpose and we continue to kneel for this cause. These text messages only leave us with more questions on how the university handled this situation. We would hope the university would defend its students from political leaders. To this day, President Olens has not met or requested a meeting with us. We are owed a meeting and to have this matter addressed publicly."
The statement comes a day after the AJC published text messages exchanged between Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and state Rep. Earl Ehrhart in which they appeared to boast of forcing university President Sam Olens to take action against the young women.
“He had to be dragged there but with you and I pushing he had no choice,” Ehrhart wrote to Warren. “Thanks for your patriotism my friend.”
The texts appear to contradict Olens’ official story that the decision to delay the cheerleaders’ entrance onto the field until after the anthem was made by the athletic department and had nothing to do with their protest.
The cheerleaders said they took a knee during a Sept. 30 football game to protest injustice and racial inequality. There was a strong backlash from some who felt they were disrespecting the flag and the military.