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Staff Editorial: National Anthem Protests

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In the 2016 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick, a then quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers shocked many when he chose to sit, then kneel, for the nation anthem during NFL games in protest of police brutality. This year, although Kaepernick is a free agent, many active NFL players have taken on his plight and have continued to kneel or show other demonstrations during the anthem, much to the disdain of President Donald Trump, who called for protesting players to be fired, referring to Kaepernick and others like him as a “son of a b****”.

There has been much debate over whether or not the protests are appropriate and some misunderstanding about what the protests are even about. Eric Reid, a safety for the 49ers who protested with Kaepernick last year explained their intentions to The New York Times, “We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system. We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the N.F.L., to speak for those who are voiceless. After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy,” said Reid.

A main source of the controversy is that some people believe that players who kneel or otherwise protest are disrespecting the flag and the military. While some may feel that way it’s important to note that many active and veteran servicemen and women have spoken out in support of the protests, particularly on twitter with the hashtag #veteransforkaepernick. Also, let’s not forget the actual flag code violation the league commits at every game. US Flag Code: Chapter 10.176C states “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.” Nobody gets mad about that. Standing for the anthem is a suggestion, not a requirement. This is an actual rule in the section titled “Respect for Flag”

Several people also took issue with the Trump administration’s response to the protests. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had this to say during ABC’s “This Week”, “This isn’t about Democrats, it’s not about Republicans, it’s not about race, it’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time. That this is about respect for the military and first responders in the country.”

Mnuchin and others need to realize, this is not and never was about the flag or the military. This about the racial injustice in this country. They need to realize the flag is supposed to represent liberty and justice for all.

 

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Staff Editorial: National Anthem Protests