Encinal High School students take a stand, join 'take a knee' National Anthem movement

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- A few hundred students at Alameda's Encinal High School took a knee after classes Monday -- some raised a fist.

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They were invited to circle around the American flag and sit, kneel, or stand for the National Anthem.

Encinal's Student Body President Mary Malkic came up with the idea in response to President Donald Trump's criticism of the NFL and the now nation-wide "take a knee" protest.

"For me as president, I want to show everyone at school that I don't want to be that kind of leader," said Malkic. "I want everyone to know they have the right to protest what they believe in."

Malkic reached out to the campus radio station, KJTX. The student hosts discussed the issue on Monday's show and invited the campus community to the protest.

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"As a student-run station, we feel that it is important to practice or freedom of speech and show students really care about what's going on," said KJTZ Program Director Emani Vaughn.

She adds that this isn't about disrespecting the flag. "We stand united and we respect America, but we want to do something better."

"Everyone's opinion is totally safe with our school and no one is judging," Malkic told ABC7 News. "If you disagree -- you don't have to come."

Teacher Kevin Gorham, who is also the athletic director, says some of the school's athletes started sitting out the National Anthem last year, to protest police violence and inequality. "Our kids are very powerful and very thoughtful. And I always taught my kids -- while you may not be able to vote, you can still be involved."

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He's proud his students are taking a stand.
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