|Saturday, February 22
Updated: February 26, 4:04 PM ET
Fans boo as Smith again turns away from flag
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- A college basketball player who turns away from the U.S. flag during the national anthem was jeered by flag-waving students at a road game, even while she was on the bench.
Toni Smith, a senior at Manhattanville College, was booed at Mount St. Mary at a game Thursday night.
Smith is protesting "that the government's priorities are not on bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power.'' She has turned away from the flag all season.
Before Thursday's game, the Mount St. Mary student government handed out small flags before the game. More than 500 people filled the small gym, and jeered Smith at every opportunity.
At the end of the game Thursday night's game between Manhattanville and Mount St. Mary's, the crowd sang "God Bless America.''
When Manhattanville played at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on Feb. 11, more than 300 flag-waving midshipmen greeted Smith with chants of "USA'' and "Leave our country.''
When Smith picked up two fouls in the first three minutes and was benched, the crowd chanted, "We want Toni,'' according to The Journal News.
"For some time now, the inequalities that are embedded into the American system have bothered me. As they are becoming progressively worse and it is clear that the government's priorities are not on bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power, I cannot, in good conscience, salute the flag,'' Smith said in a statement released Thursday.
Manhattanville President Richard Berman said he told Smith "what she's doing is courageous and difficult.''