NFL players protest by kneeling for the National Anthem
By Michael Nguyen, Staff Writer
On October 22, 2017 roughly two dozen NFL players continued their protest against police brutality by kneeling during the performance of the national anthem in football stadiums across the country. The protest has developed into a nationally divisive issue, separating those supporting the players expressing themselves through peaceful protest and those who view the protest as an act of disrespect to the American flag and armed forces.
Kneeling during the National Anthem began with Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality that systematically and disproportionally targets Africans Americans at the beginning of the 2016 NFL season.
This act spread quickly, with other athletes following Kaepernick’s example. Athletes who have participated in kneeling believe they are using their opportunity in the spotlight to peacefully protest and bring attention to police brutality and racial inequalities that plague America.
Kaepernick stated during the 2016 NFL season, “I’m not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” With recent events, such as the riots in Charlottesville, Kaepernick is not alone in thinking that America still has many issues in regards to racial equality.
Many of those people against the protest have called the act of kneeling disgraceful, disrespectful or un-American, even though the players are exercising their first amendment rights and peacefully protesting. Much backlash has come from owners of NFL teams and President Trump. Trump tweeted that owners should “fire or suspend” players who kneel during the national anthem. NFL owner Jerry jones has publicly threatened to bench any player that does not stand for the national anthem. Bob McNair, Owner of the Houston Texans said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.” McNair’s mentality can be viewed as him comparing his players, who are kneeling and African American, to inmates who are not free and have no rights, ultimately slaves. There are also those who say protesting during a sporting event is not the right time or place. When will there ever be a right time or place for protest?
There are those who say the players should stand because that’s “the way we do things.” At one point in history it was also “the way we do things” for an African American to not be allowed to sit in the front of the bus. The peaceful protest of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which African Americans refused ride public transportation in Alabama, eventually led the supreme court to declare segregated buses to be unconstitutional. Certainly, during that period, there were some who stated that it was un-American, disgraceful and disrespectful that an African American wanted to sit in the front of the bus. Through peaceful protest change was made and hopefully again through peaceful protest America can continue to improve as a country.