September 11 2016
High school, college and professional football players across the United States this weekend took a knee, locked arms, or sat silently during the pre-game rendition of the national anthem
Woodrow Wilson players and coaches take a knee during the national anthem, while NFL Tennessee Titan players raise their fists. | Photo: Twitter / Philanastasia-Sports Illustrated
Against police violence against people of color
From Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay to Seattle’s Puget Sound, from Terre Haute, Indiana, to Washington D.C., from Nebraska to New Jersey—high school, college and professional football players across the United States this weekend took a knee, locked arms, or sat silently during the pre-game rendition of the national anthem, inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police violence against people of color.
A show of unity
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised his right fist Sunday during the playing of the national anthem while his teammates stood on the sideline with their arms linked in a show of unity. Peters is a native of Oakland, California, where commuters filmed police shooting Oscar Grant—an unarmed, handcuffed Black man, as he lay face-down on the subway platform on New Year’s Day, 2009.
Later in the day, several Tennessee Titans players also raised their fists during the national anthem and one of the most outspoken teams in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks, locked arms before their home game against the Miami Dolphins, while several Dolphin players took a knee.
Seahawks receiver, Doug Baldwin described the gesture as a show of unity, and not a protest. “I’m extremely thankful for the men that we have in this locker room, for their resiliency, for their intellect and for their love and passion for one another,” he said before the game. “I hope that in our demonstration of unity, the people who are watching will see that.”
If they believe in a cause, that’s fine
Saturday, Indiana State University sophomore defensive back Lonnie Walker knelt before his team’s game against the Minnesota Gophers. At Lincoln Southeast High School in Nebraska, two players—one white, one African-American—took a knee as a silent protest Friday night as the national anthem blared. Another player at Waggener High in Louisville did the same.
At Auburn High in Rockford, Ill., a number of players took a knee during the anthem while their teammates stood with their hands over their hearts, and several players at Maury High in Norfolk, Va., also took a knee behind the end zone as the anthem played.
“Our school system has said, we’re of the belief, we let our guys do what they believe in,” Coach Chris Fraser told the Virginian Pilot. “And so we didn’t make an issue of it, and if they believe in a cause, that’s fine.”
Since Kaepernick’s boycott was first revealed last month by a sports journalist who noticed him kneeling during the national anthem, his protest has sparked passionate debate in the U.S., with Blacks and other people of color in ardent support, while many whites, joined by some prominent former athletes excoriated the move as unpatriotic and disrespectful to both the flag and the military.
Kaepernick himself posted several of the high-school protests from Friday night on his Twitter feed.
Coach Preston Brown and his assistants took a knee with their players
In Camden, New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson Coach Preston Brown and his assistants took a knee with their players.
“This was our way of saying that things have to change in our country. There’s oppression, there’s social injustice, and these kids live it,” Brown commented.
A 2013 report by the Malcolm X Grassroots movement concluded that a Black person in the U.S. is killed by police or security personnel every 28 hours.
Friday, Kansas City cornerback Peters told the media, “I salute Colin for what he’s doing. He’s standing up for a great cause.”