Jailer explains reason for burning UK shirt; Uses opportunity to donate

Screenshot of video

Sheriff John Root in video taken Sunday of burning UK shirt.

The kneeling of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team during the national anthem during Saturday's game displeased many Kentuckians, including Laurel County Sheriff John Root and Laurel County Jailer Jamie Mosley.

To show their frustration at what Mosley called a lack of respect, the two gathered some of their UK memorabilia on Sunday and posted a video in which they burned a UK shirt.

But the two men then decided to turn something negative into a positive gesture by collecting UK apparel from those opposing the basketball team's actions and donating to those in need.

Mosley said the amount of the donations had been amazing, as had the overwhelming support received by their actions.

"We got six garbage bags full and we are now washing those and sorting them into the different sizes to be donated," Mosley said. "We have talked to the homeless shelter (Good Samaritan House) and they are taking part of it. The rest of it will be donated to the Restoration Ministries in Lily."

Mosley said he was surprised and touched by the support shown by the public.

"We had veterans come in here with their hats on, thanking us for standing up for them," Mosley added. "It would bring tears to your eyes. Here they were, thanking us when we should be thanking them."

Mosley said rebuking the men's basketball team was "an important issue" that he felt should be addressed.

"We only have a few sacred things left - we should stand during the national anthem to show respect to our veterans and the flag that represents the freedoms they fought for and we should bow our heads and keep quiet during prayer. When we lose those things, what's left?" he said.

He said he and Root teamed up to discard some UK items.

"We were hurt and disappointed by the team kneeling during the national anthem. And that took place on National Law Enforcement Day so we were expressing our displeasure with the team's actions. We fully respect their right to do what they did, but the timing was all wrong. But the same rights they have applies to us too and we felt we needed to show our hurt at their actions."

He added that the video of the two burning a UK shirt (which has since been removed from Facebook) did show their displeasure with the team's actions, but that there "was not a harsh word spoken" during that action.

"But we thought rather than burn the items, we would collect it and donate it to someone else. With these donations, maybe someone who didn't have a warm shirt will have one," he added. "So we saw an opportunity to do something good and this was a gesture to make something good of something negative and help a lot of people. And the support has been overwhelming."

Mosley said he had received very few negative remarks, although he had been called racist. Comments left on the video and stories published throughout the state showed a mix of support and opposition.

"This has nothing to do with race. But when the music to the national anthem starts, we should salute the flag because there are so many people who have sacrificed for that flag and what it stands for," he added. "I have no animosity toward the team and I won't say I won't ever watch them play again, but John and I represent 130 to 140 people who wear badges every day, many of those veterans and law enforcement and several in active military now. What would it look like if we didn't do something?"

Mosley added that there had been comments about neither he nor Root posting about the violent protests in Washington D.C. last week but that he never upheld such actions.

"I don't support any wrongdoing or any illegal act," he continued. "This is not about politics. This is about our flag, standing up during the national anthem and honoring our veterans. And it's not just us - there are a lot of people reacting like we did. The Knox County Fiscal Court voted to stop funding to UK. A lot of the sponsors have also pulled out and I expect there will be more."

Mosley re-iterated that he was not bitter or mad at the actions of the UK team members and coaches.

"I'm not mad. I'm hurt. I think there should be a policy in place at UK to prevent putting coaches in the situation they were in," he continued. "But my values just don't match up with what the team is now displaying."

Attempts to contact Root for comment were unsuccessful.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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