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Michigan State football players emulate raised-fist protest in NFL

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Three college football players from Michigan State University raised their fists during the U.S. national anthem on Saturday, emulating NFL players who have chosen the gesture to protest racial inequality.

The protest by fullback Delton Williams, defensive end Gabe Sherrod and safety Kenney Lyke - who are all black - took place at the outset of Michigan State's home game against Wisconsin, rivals in the popular Big Ten conference, the Michigan news website mlive.com reported with a photo of the three.

SEE MORE: The best photos from the past week in sports

Sherrod had suggested in a Twitter message earlier in the week he would join in the protests that have grown in recent weeks among athletes in the United States to decry racial injustice and police brutality.

"Time to represent this movement publicly!! Our lives matter too and even us privileged college students fear for our lives around the police," Sherrod wrote.

SEE MORE: Time magazine cover has Colin Kaepernick kneeling

The protest came during a fifth day of marches in Charlotte after a black man was shot and killed on Tuesday by a police officer in the North Carolina city, the latest flashpoint for a national wave of outrage over police violence against minority groups.

ATHLETES PROTESTING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM:

9 PHOTOS
Colin Kaepernick and more pro athletes protesting during the national anthem
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Colin Kaepernick and more pro athletes protesting during the national anthem
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneels in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02: (L-R) Rashard Robinson #33, Antoine Bethea #41, and Jaquiski Tartt #29 of the San Francisco 49ers raise their fists in protest during the national anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Brandon Marshall #54 of the Denver Broncos takes a knee in protest during the National Anthem before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.The Broncos defeated the Bengals 29-17. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Duane Brown #76 of the Houston Texans raises his fist during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kenny Stills #10 of the Miami Dolphins (C) kneels during the national anthem before the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles players Steven Means (51), Malcolm Jenkins (27) and Ron Brooks (33) raise their fists in the air during the national anthem for a game against the Chicago Bears on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) kneels during the national anthem next to defensive end Jared Crick (93) and defensive tackle Billy Winn (97) and defensive tackle Adam Gotsis (99) before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Kenny Britt #18 and Robert Quinn #94 of the Los Angeles Rams raise their fists in protest prior to playing the San Francisco 49ers in their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The protests during "The Star Spangled Banner" have spread since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he chose to stay seated during the national anthem before a National Football League pre-season game in August and then opted to kneel in the next game.

Players from several NFL teams have protested during the anthem since then, either by kneeling or raising their fists, while U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe has also knelt during games.

The fist-raising protests recall the famous gesture by U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during a medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

The protesting players have been seen as allies of the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew in response to a string of high-profile police killings of unarmed African-Americans across the country in the last two years.

Other athletes and fans have spoken out against the protests, viewing them as disrespectful of the flag, the military and the nation in general.

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