Texas football players marched with coach Tom Herman and members of the Austin Police Department to the state Capitol building Thursday afternoon, joining the national protests against racism after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Other Longhorn coaches joined Herman and his wife and players as they walked from the north end zone of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to the Capitol grounds about a mile away. Players, coaches and police knelt together for nine minutes, about the same amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck on May 25.
The Texas football team has reached the Capitol.— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) June 4, 2020
Everyone is now taking 9-minute knee to remember George Floyd. pic.twitter.com/8Rnx8JDupv
Chauvin has been fired from his job and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers on the scene -- Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao -- have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, according to criminal complaints.
"This protest won't just stop here,'' junior safety Caden Sterns said, according to The Associated Press. "To the white community ... if you want change like you say you do, you must change. What I mean is, you must realize, and the oppressor must realize, you are oppressing.''
Asked about the march, Herman declined to comment, saying it was about the players. "This is their day," he told OrangeBloods.com. "It's not about me at all."
Several Longhorns have been vocal in addressing the national protests, with wide receiver Brennan Eagles going so far as to say on Twitter that: "I'm not going to play another snap knowing what's going on in our society due to color and the system being broken. Let's look at the bigger picture."
Herman has been supportive. He told the Austin American-Statesman the average fan can't understand what it's like to be a black athlete at the university.
"There's a double standard maybe a little bit," he said. "We're going to pack 100,000 people into DKR and millions watch on TV that are predominantly white -- not all of them, certainly, but most of 'em white. We're gonna cheer when they score touchdowns, and we're gonna hug our buddy when they get sacks or an interception.
"But we gonna let them date our daughter? Are we going to hire them in a position of power in our company? That's the question I have for America. You can't have it both ways.
"And if you're going to cheer them and love them for 3½ hours a Saturday in the fall, you better have the same feelings for them off the field, because they're human beings. They deserve the same amount of respect and human rights that all of us do in this country when we agreed on the social contract to be a member of the United States."
"Playing college football has taught me a ton of lessons," Ehlinger said, noting that he grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. "The one I'm most thankful for is the relationships and friendships that I've built with my teammates. I've realized that nobody should be treated differently because of their skin color."