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Ole Miss, Southern Miss players boycott practice to protest social injustice

Football teams at Ole Miss and Southern Miss became the latest college athletes to skip practice to protest racial injustice.

The Ole Miss players and head coach Lane Kiffin marched from the University of Mississippi campus to the Oxford Square after boycotting practice Friday morning. Southern Miss players issued a statement that they would stage a protest march from M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg beginning at 5 p.m.

Both teams’ actions came a day after Mississippi State’s players boycotted practice to march through downtown Starkville. A number of professional teams, as well as other college football teams, have also boycotted games and practices this week.

“We live by a brotherhood. We hold ourselves to high standards on and off the field of play. We cannot be silent to instances of racial injustice in our country any longer,” a statement from the Southern Miss players read. “We are not practicing today. Instead, we are standing up against racial injustices and extending our brotherhood to actively speak out against racism.”

Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson, a Vicksburg native, voiced his support for his players in a Twitter post.

“We as a Coaching Staff fully support our players in a march against Social Injustice!” Hopson wrote.

The marches against police brutality come in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Kenosha, Wisconsin man who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer earlier this month.

Friday’s march was not the first time Ole Miss players have spoken out about the issues of social injustice. Earlier this summer, the athletics department held a Unity March on campus where players were able to speak, along with athletics director Keith Carter, football head coach Lane Kiffin and women’s basketball head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin.

Earlier this week, senior defensive end Ryder Anderson was asked about the Jacob Blake shooting and if it had been discussed in the locker room.

Anderson has been one of the football players heavily involved in the marches. Alongside linebacker MoMo Sanogo, the pair helped organize the LOUnited March in July in response to police brutality and in protesting the Confederate Statue on campus.

“We haven’t talked about it altogether as a team, yet,” Anderson said on Wednesday. “But, we’ve talked amongst ourselves a little bit. What happened was completely inexcusable and that’s why you see everything that’s going on right. That’s why everyone’s so frustrated. Because that stuff’s been happening and continuing to happen. That’s just something we’re going to have to continue to fight against.”

Oxford Eagle sports writer Jake Thompson contributed to this report.