LSU's athletic department sent an email to all of its student athletes offering “respect and support” for them to publicly express their opinions regarding the Alton Sterling case, according to a report in the Baton Rouge Advocate.
The two Louisiana police officers who fatally shot Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, in Baton Rouge last year won't face federal charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
According to the Advocate, LSU senior associate athletics director Miriam Segar offered counseling for those athletes who seek it, encouraged them to avoid “potentially violent situations.” The note specifically asked students not to wear LSU gear if they chose to express an opinion.
“We know this is a subject that many of you care deeply about and we respect and support your right to speak publicly and express your opinions,” the email said.
LSU president F. King Alexander sent out a statement when the decision was announced that read in part:
"Last summer, we learned a lot about each other and the character of our fellow citizens. The world got to see what we see every day: neighbors, friends, family members and even strangers willing to lend a helping hand or offer a kind word. Those qualities define the very essence of LSU’s community: we are a family, and family takes care of one another. The University will maintain a safe learning and working environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Campus safety is a priority. We are committed to helping students understand societal challenges, supporting them in expressing themselves in a safe manner if they wish to participate in the public dialogue, and developing future leaders who will help avoid situations like the ones of July 2016.
"As we process today’s news and consider our path forward, remember to focus on the things that unite us, not those that divide. Remember what we learned at Moment or Movement: that no matter what the circumstances, we can come together to heal and make progress toward our shared goals. As part of the LSU family, your role in this world is to learn, think, and influence others to make a profound impact on society, and we’re here to support you on every step of that journey."
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Several former LSU athletes expressed their feelings after Sterling's death, including SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears.
Last July, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, a former LSU Tiger, posted a photo of himself on Twitter wearing a shirt with Sterling's picture.
About the photo, Fournette told reporters at SEC Media Days: “I figured, you know, I have a voice. My whole meaning toward that was just pray until change come. That’s not just in (Baton Rouge). That’s everywhere in the world.”
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