Seth Towns kneels during anthem for fallen friend Casey Goodson

Adam Jardy
Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State forward Seth Towns takes a knee during the national anthem before Tuesday's men's basketball game at Notre Dame.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The public-address announcer at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion was winding down the pregame festivities Tuesday when men’s basketball players from Ohio State lined up along the free-throw line near their bench. 

For the first time this season, the Buckeyes would be present on the court for the playing of the national anthem. When both teams had been announced, and Ohio State’s 13 players locked arms, one of them dropped to a knee. 

It was Seth Towns, a Harvard graduate and product of Northland High School, who four days earlier had learned that his friend, Casey Goodson, had been shot dead by a Franklin County Sheriff’s SWAT deputy at his home on the Northeast Side. Goodson was 23.

Some circumstances surrounding Goodson's shooting remain murky, with his family saying he was shot in the back outside his grandmother's home bringing home some Subway sandwiches, and law enforcement officers saying he was shot after refusing to drop a weapon after being ordered by the deputy.

After a 90-85 Ohio State win that Towns watched from the bench as he continued to recover from knee surgery, he posted a photo of himself kneeling with the caption, “Justice for Casey Goodson”. 

Later that night, Towns told The Dispatch in a text message that, “In this moment I really want to raise awareness to the murder of Casey Goodson.” 

A day after Goodson’s death on Friday, Towns posted some thoughts on Twitter, describing himself as broken-hearted to learn that a young man he grew up with and “one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever known” had been killed. He concluded the Twitter thread with the hashtag #JusticeForCaseyGoodson. 

When Towns knelt Tuesday night, CJ Walker and Musa Jallow put their arms around him. He remained there until the prerecorded anthem was played over the speakers, after which both Walker and Jallow embraced him before heading to the bench area. 

Ohio State’s game at Notre Dame was the first for the Buckeyes since Goodson’s death. At home games this season, however, the anthem has been played in empty arenas while both teams have been in their respective locker rooms. 

Towns is no stranger to speaking out on social issues. While at Northland, he was an advocate for social change and led a peaceful in-school protest as a senior.

After graduating from Harvard and joining Ohio State during the spring, Towns was active in multiple Black Lives Matter protests in Columbus following the murder of Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of white police officers. 

He was briefly detained by police during one protest, and footage circulated of Towns being handcuffed while yelling, “Say his name!” The following day, Towns delivered a speech during another protest. 

He posted a monologue of his thoughts to Twitter and appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss his actions and told a national audience that “there is a huge dilemma in this country right now that needs to be addressed and I won’t shut up. I won’t stop.”