KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The mother of the Union County boy whose anti-bullying video went viral over the weekend responded Tuesday to criticism of photos she posted online.
Photos Kimberly Jones posted of her and her children with the Confederate flag began circulating around the internet on Monday.
Jones admitted she posted the picture with the flag.
“It was meant to be ironic and funny and extreme,” Jones told Good Morning America. “If I could take it back I would.”
Jones posted a video of her son, Keaton, pleading people to stop bullying others. The video went viral and Keaton became a hero, with celebrities, athletes and politicians tweeting their support for him.
“I couldn’t ever imagine for any of this to happen,” Keaton told Good Morning America.
Some people, however, were concerned about the flag photos.
“We’re not racist,” said Jones. “People who know us know that.”
Some came to Keaton’s defense, including singer Parson James.
Jones added that she hoped her son’s message would push through the noise.
“If they want to hate me, that’s fine,” she said. “But still, talk to your kids because this is an epidemic.”
Vols continued showing their support for Keaton and his family on Tuesday. Inviting the little boy to meet UT’s football team, getting an orange jersey, and meeting Coach Phil Fulmer. Other Vols who have spent time with the Jones family, like Jayson Swain, say seeing the picture has not changed anything.
“I’ve just tried to really focus on the bigger picture, the message, and that’s Keaton, bullying. I’ve not really paid much attention to it. I’ve seen it. I’ve spoken to mom about it. I know being part of this area you see that flag a lot, it means different things to different people,” said Swain.
Swain adds the main message is getting lost in the controversy and that what we’re here for is standing up to bullying, “That’s why we’re making our voices heard because our kids are facing battles at school from their peers and we’re trying to stop that so kids are not doing things to themselves. That’s the message. That’s what’s important here.”
On Monday, the Union County School District, where Keaton attends school, released a statement, saying the school system does not tolerate bullying and has policies in place to address any issues. He said any report of bullying is immediately investigated, but the privacy of everyone involved would be respected.