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Knox College lifts suspension for player’s Ferguson protest

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Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, reversed its decision to suspend a women's basketball player who protested the Ferguson decision right before  a regulation game in St. Louis, County Missouri over the weekend.

"I could not go into that gymnasium and pretend that everything was okay. I could not, in good conscience, I could not play that game," said Ariyana Smith, a junior from New Lenox, Illinois.

The team was about to compete against Fontbonne University on Saturday, November 28, 2014, in Clayton, Missouri; the city where the grand jury chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Smith is seen on cellphone video raising her arms in a "hands up, don't shoot" posture, and then she lays on the gym floor. She later leaves the gym.

"I knew it was gonna shock people.  I knew they were gonna be upset, but I couldn't let that stop me. I could not go to the city of St. Louis and not acknowledge the sacrifice the protestors were making with their bodies. People are being gassed.  To me, that demonstration was absolutely respectful," she said.

Knox College athletic officials initially handed down a one game suspension for Smith, because she left the game and her team.

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, they reversed that decision.

"Upon review of the situation and discussion with the team, and in recognition of the larger national context, the decision was made to reverse the suspension and the player has been invited to resume all basketball activities," said a news release from the college.

Team member Sharette Fisher says the decision was unanimous.

"We, as a team, said that the protest that Ariyana did was very brave and noble. A lot of us admired the fact she did it, and the suspension should be uplifted," Fisher said.

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  • K.j

    Brave and noble? Reading the transcripts and understanding why the ruling is what it was..that’s understanding the truth..what she did was act like a sheep IMO believing What the media fed us before the facts were in..there is nothing brave about behaving as others behave because it’s what you think people want..listen to the truth..decide for yourself .. Be careful who you hitch a bandwagon to..pick your role models wisely ..Michael brown was not one.. He did not deserve to die..but he was not a INNOCENT victim , put yourself in harms way, harm may come.

    • Marquis H.

      The “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” initiative is more broad than the Mike Brown shooting disregarding his “innocence”. The intent is to draw attention to the generalization that young, black males, are imminently nefarious or threatening. I draw attention to your last statement –put yourself in harms way, harm may come. In this country being black and male automatically puts you at a predisposition for being viewed negatively my a great amount of people and that, unjustly, puts you in “harms way”.

  • Bill

    She said she did it because and I quote ” acknowledge the sacrifice the protestors were making with their bodies. People are being gassed.” People are being gassed because they are breaking into store and robbing the owners who have nothing to do with this blind. It looked like something out of the planet of the apes… I bet if the team wore white bed sheets and masks they would be kicked out of the college even though it is all about beliefs….

    • DivineMisM

      The were plenty of people being gassed that were PEACEFULLY protesting. The bigger issue is about how peoples humanity and value is being questioned. The issue is bigger than M. Brown, its about people like Aiyana Stanley-Jones or Darius Simmons or Cassandra Feuerstein. Its about abuse of people by those who are supposed to protect them. Holding authorities to a higher standard because they are armed and as supposed to uphold the law not break it, bend it or interpret it as they see fit.

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