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UT football players, coaches march in Knoxville to support protests

(UT Athletics)
(UT Athletics)(WVLT)
Published: Jun. 6, 2020 at 8:54 AM EDT
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Athletes from across the country have stepped up to show their support for protestors and speak out about racial injustice and police brutality. The University of Tennessee football team is no different.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt and the members of the Vols' coaching staff joined players and marched through downtown Knoxville on Friday as a part of the "March on Knox."

The peaceful protest gathered hundreds of community members together in solidarity.

The march started at World's Fair Park and ended in Market Square where Pruitt and many players addressed the crowd with statements to encourage a change.

"The social injustice that we still face cannot stand. This can't keep happening. Something has to change. This isn't right," Trey Smith said. "We've got to make a change. The only way we can make a change is together."

Smith made a powerful speech to community members at the protest. Smith encouraged others to reach out to people who don't look like them and "learn to understand the struggle they come from.

"Without understanding, nothing will change," Smith said.

Offensive lineman, K'Rojhn Calbert, addressed the crowd saying, "We're supposed to help one another. We're supposed to love one another. We're supposed to be there for one another when somebody needs you."

Wide receiver, Josh Palmer, wore a shirt with a screenshot with a statement by Phillip Fulmer asking fans who support black athletes on the field to support them in their "daily pursuit of peace, happiness and equity."

Other players and coaches were in attendance including Derrick Ansley, Brian Niedermeyer, Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer, Shawn Shamburger, Cheyenne Labruzza and Jerome Carvin.

The players led the crowd in a chant, shouting, "no justice, no peace."

"This is leadership," Coach Jeremy Pruitt said. "This is doing it the right way."

Pruitt thanked all the protestors for coming out Friday evening and commended the courage of the UT players for speaking out and all the students for showing up.

"This is what we have to do and we have to do it together," Pruitt said.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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