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

The elected officials are offering “Back the Badge” shirts in exchange for UK gear that will be taken to homeless shelters.
A screenshot of the video posted on the sheriff's Facebook page.
A screenshot of the video posted on the sheriff's Facebook page.(Screenshot)
Published: Jan. 10, 2021 at 8:23 PM EST
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LONDON, Ky. (WKYT) - In a video posted online Sunday evening, two southern Kentucky elected officials burned University of Kentucky gear, decrying the “disrespect” shown by the UK basketball team when players and coaches knelt during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game at Florida.

“This is what I think about the program, Coach, until you can get these guys under control and lead by example,” Laurel County Sheriff John Root said, before tossing a Final Four t-shirt into a fire.

Sheriff Root was joined by Laurel County Jailer Jamie Mosley in the video.

Mosley said anyone who wants to trade in their UK gear can get a “Back the Badge” t-shirt in exchange at the Laurel County jail on Monday. Mosley said any clothing turned into them will be delivered to homeless shelters.

In the two-minute video posted on his Facebook page, Sheriff Root calls the team’s action an “outrage” that “disrespected” the American flag, national anthem and veterans.

“UK may have won the game but they lost their respect!!” Sheriff Root wrote in an earlier post.

“We didn’t like the way our Ky team turned their back on the flag and Anthem,” Sheriff Root said in a text message responding to WKYT’s Garrett Wymer on Sunday night. “We discussed this and we figured a way to turn all the negativity into a positive role with donating clothes to shelters and the needy.”

“We stand strong on our beliefs for our Veterans, flag and Anthem,” he said.

It was reportedly the first time the Cats have knelt during the national anthem. Kentucky players are typically in the locker room this season when the anthem is played at Rupp Arena, according to WKYT’s Alex Walker.

The players and coaches all knelt together on the floor as a statement about “what’s going on in America at this time,” as Kentucky guard Davion Mintz, a grad student, said in a post-game news conference.

“It’s a lot of stuff that goes on everyday that we knelt for,” sophomore forward Keion Brooks said. “The capitol, that stuff, had a part to play in it, but there’s some other things that you don’t see that go on everyday that are unacceptable and we want to take a stand against.”

Brooks said he, Mintz and senior forward Olivier Sarr decided it was something they wanted to do.

UK Coach John Calipari said that he heard about the players’ plan on his way to the arena, and after discussing it with them, they asked him to join them.

“These kids are good kids,” Calipari said after the game. “They care about this country and all the other stuff. They’re trying to figure out life and making statements they think they have to make.

“I want to listen to what they’re saying and then I’ll support them if they want me to be there,” he said. “If they said ‘we’re good by ourselves’ I probably wouldn’t have been out there.”

“Together as one,” reads a post sharing the photo on the team’s Twitter page.

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