Laurel County jailer gives out shirts to people turning in UK gear after team’s anthem protest

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LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WDKY) – The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team kneeled during the national anthem before their game with Florida.

That act has caused some others to take actions of their own. In fact, the sheriff and jailer in Laurel County have burned their UK clothing. They’ve also encouraged fans to drop off their UK shirts in exchange for a shirt supporting police.

Laurel Co. sheriff, jailer burn UK gear after basketball team kneels during anthem

Monday morning, several people have already dropped off shirts, sweatshirts, and other UK fan gear. There are several bags full just inside the jail lobby, in exchange for those, people are getting a “Back The Badge” t-shirt.

UK’s president sent out a statement Monday morning saying:

“A value we all hold dear in our country is the right of free speech and self-expression. That right for young students such as these is important, too, as they learn, grow, and find out who they are and what they believe. We won’t always agree on every issue. However, we hope to agree about the right of self-expression, which is so fundamental to who we are as an institution of higher learning. We live in a polarized and deeply divided country. Our hope – and that of our players and our coaches – is to find ways to bridge divides and unify.”

But when it became known what the UK players did, some in Big Blue Nation became very upset. The sheriff and jailer, notably, posted a video of them burning UK shirts.

They called on other UK fans to bring in their clothing and say it will be taken to a homeless shelter and, in exchange for doing that, they will be given a “Back The Badge t-shirt.

Several players talked about their stance and the reaction to it during Monday’s press conference.

“We are just trying to make a peaceful protest. Trying to get through that we need equality like everybody else,” Isaiah Jackson said.

“We didn’t talk about it. Obviously, we knew that people would react in a certain way,” said Olivier Sarr. “But as always, you always do something, you have people pleased, others that aren’t.”

Neither the sheriff nor the jailer wanted to be interviewed with us Monday, but the jailer did issue a statement that said in part, ”I believe that our flag, our anthem, our veterans deserve that moment of honor when we stand to show respect.”

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