Byron High School graduate and Kansas State basketball star Ayoka Lee is behind a push this past week to stamp out racism on that campus.
The movement comes in the wake of an inflammatory tweet sent last week by a Kansas State student denigrating George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers created national and world-wide protests.
McNeil, head of the school’s America First Students chapter, on Thursday tweeted, “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month.”
Floyd was killed on May 25 in Minneapolis during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost 8 minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down. That is believed to have been the cause of Floyd’s death, who was heard saying “I can’t breath” as he was knelt on.
Chauvin and three other officers who were with him during the incident were all arrested days later. Chauvin faces second-degree murder chargers.
McNeil’s tweet set off a firestorm of protest at Kansas State, particularly among the school’s Black athletes. Many are threatening to not join their teams if no serious measures are taken against McNeil.
Lee, who is Black, was a part of those threats.
A redshirt sophomore center at Kansas State and a first-team All-Big 12 player this past year, Lee tweeted on Saturday, “Please respect my decision.” The tweet had a note attached to it that read: “Due to recent insensitivity from Kansas State students, collectively as Black student athletes we will NO LONGER accept these types of actions. If we do not see any change, we will not play or participate in any donor or recruiting events.
“A policy created against racism that will expel any student that openly displays racism on all platforms such as social media, school, Aggieille, and sports events.
“We also need to see student Jaden McNeil receive strong consequences of his insensitive actions.
“If these actions are not taken, it is a promise that we will not play.”
Kansas State coaches and its athletic director, Gene Taylor, have taken to Twitter and other platforms to strongly denounce McNeil’s tweet. That includes Kansas State women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie.
On Friday, Mittie tweeted: “This recent tweet from a K-State student are both disgusting and disturbing. Our program and our coaches support our players and will continue to fight with them against racism and hate. We can and will create change for the better.”
Lee chose not to be interviewed for this story.