KNOX COUNTY — The Knox County Fiscal Court adopted a resolution Monday asking Kentucky's state leaders to reallocate tax funds given to the University of Kentucky. The resolution was in response to the Kentucky men's basketball team kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday's game.
The resolution says the Knox County Fiscal Court wants state leaders "to reallocate tax funding from unpatriotic recipients to hard working Kentucky [taxpayers] across this Commonwealth."
Knox County Judge Executive Mike Mitchell told the Times-Tribune that it was his idea to create the resolution and said the actions of the men’s basketball team were disrespectful to those who served in the military.
“We’ve got names of people out here on this monument that’s given up their life for our country,” Mitchell said referencing a veterans monument located outside the Knox County Courthouse.
“[The university] receives millions and millions of dollars every year of hardworking Kentucky taxpayers’ money. I think they need to be held accountable for their actions if they can’t manage it no better than that,” he later added.
Mitchell said he and other local leaders have to deal with revenues daily, and decide how to properly use that money to help their constituents.
“We could use some of that money that I feel may not have been spent properly,” he said.
Mitchell explained that the resolution was authorized for passage through the use of poll-voting. The resolution will officially be voted on during the fiscal court’s next scheduled meeting scheduled for January 27.
Knox County Judge Executive Mike Mitchell, District 1 Magistrate Roger C. Mills, District 2 Magistrate Stacey Roark, District 3 Magistrate Tony Golden, District 4 Magistrate Jason Smith and District 5 Magistrate Darryl Baker voted in the poll-vote in support of the resolution on Monday. Mitchell said other county leaders have asked to sign the resolution in support of it when they can.
The Kentucky basketball team and coach staff chose to kneel during the anthem as a group before Saturday's game against the Florida Gators, which Kentucky won.
Keion Brooks, a sophomore on the Kentucky basketball team, said in his post game press conference that the team wanted to take a stand against what they are seeing in the world today.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on every day that we knelt for," he said. "The Capitol, that stuff had a part to play in it, but there’s some other things that we don’t see that go on every day that are unacceptable and that we want to take a stand against.”
Olivier Sarr, a senior on the team, answered media questions on Monday morning in advance of Kentucky's Tuesday game against Alabama.
“We understood that our gesture would have consequences and we just want people to understand," he said. "We know some people would be mad or pissed but we just want people to understand that it’s a peaceful way to protest and the way we can, using our platform and we just want people to understand to raise awareness and that’s it.”
Freshman Isaiah Jackson also talked to media on Monday and responded to questions about the decision to kneel.
"We’re just trying to make a peaceful protest and trying to get through to everybody that we need equality just like everybody else," Jackson said. "This is a great country but we feel like everybody, like minorities and stuff, don’t have equal rights as everybody else, so that’s what we’re protesting. That’s why we kneeled. That’s what a peaceful protest is.”
The full resolution is below:
"Call of action to denounce the University of Kentucky men's basketball team, and the coaching staff for refusing to stand during the national anthem of the United States of America. This action lacks respect for the veterans that have served our country.
"Whereas, we the Knox County Fiscal Court as elected leaders of Knox County, KY do hereby call upon; Governor Andy Beshear, Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, Speaker of the House of Representatives David Osborne and all House of Representatives members as well as all members of the Kentucky Senate, to take notice of this action.
"Whereas, during a time in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as our Nation is dealing with a worldwide pandemic, and the division that exists in our country. We call upon the Elected Leaders of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to address this issue and take action to reallocate tax funding from unpatriotic recipients to hard working Kentucky [taxpayers] across this Commonwealth.
"Whereas, The University of Kentucky receives millions of Kentucky taxpayers' hard earned money from across this Commonwealth, it is time to take action during this Legislative Session to let the voice of the Knox County taxpayers, and the [taxpayers'] voices all across Kentucky be heard, that we as Kentuckians disapprove of this unpatriotic act.
"Whereas, Knox County Fiscal Court as well as local governments across the Commonwealth are facing tough decisions daily on how to deal with funding for services, and providing for our constituents.
"Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Knox County Fiscal Court supports the reallocations of the tax dollars from the University of Kentucky, and any other public university or institution that allows any action of disgrace to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, or the United States of America.
"Be it further resolved, that the Knox County Fiscal Court petitions the Kentucky General Assembly to act upon these requests."