A new form of protest is sweeping across the country as people stand, or rather kneel, in solidarity with those affected by police brutality.
The movement was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, when he chose to take a seat on the bench during the playing of the national anthem during the 2016 preseason. Kaepernick announced in a statement that he was not protesting our country, or the flag, but rather the systematic racism and police brutality that has been in the news lately.
This season, scattered players started out the year following suit of Kaepernick. However, after comments made by President Donald Trump, nearly 200 more joined the protests.
At a rally for Senate candidate Luther Strange on Sep. 22, President Donald Trump urged NFL owners to respond to players kneeling during the anthem, saying, “Get that son of a b**** off the field right now,” and adding his catchphrase, “He’s fired!,” reported CNN.
Needless to say, the protests have caused controversy and divisiveness throughout the country.
Many believe that kneeling causes no harm to anyone and is simply an expression of free speech, as stated in the First Amendment. Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, believes, “if they wanted to disrespect the country, they wouldn’t kneel silently.”
On the other hand, some think that kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful to the flag and our country’s military and veterans. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin backed this idea, saying that athletes, “can do free speech on their own time,” reported Politico.
NFL coaches and team owners have joined the movement, many standing, but linking arms with their team in solidarity. 49’ers CEO, Jed York, sided with the players, saying, “We need to respect First Amendment rights, regardless of our personal feelings of the actions involved.”
Other players have chosen to sit on the bench, raise their fists as a nod to the Black Power movement, or even stay in the locker room, as demonstrated by the Pittsburgh Steelers during week 3 of the NFL season. Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch even wore an “Everybody vs. Trump” shirt to a game at Sports Authority Field in Denver.
Budweiser, home of Bud Light, the “official beer of the NFL,” has considered pulling their sponsorship of the NFL over the dispute, but is encouraging fans to voice their opinions over a hotline number.
A meeting between commissioner Roger Goodell and several team owners from throughout the league took place on Oct. 18 and decided that the NFL will not change their policies to force players to stand.