In 2016, quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and violence against people of color. It was a decision that was seen as controversial by many and that hurt his career, making him the least popular NFL player in 2016.
Earlier this week, President Trump called attention to the form of silent protest at a campaign rally, saying: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Trump proceeded to unleash a series of tweets directed at the NFL in the following days.
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect….our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
The NFL Players Association, the NFL and more have condemned Trump’s remarks and several sports teams have released statements defending their players’ rights to protest and standing with them. A MLB player knelt during the national anthem this weekend for the first time ever, and today (September 24), several members of nearly every NFL team that played knelt or locked arms in a show of resistance. The Seattle Seahawks bowed out of the anthem altogether, and the Pittsburgh Steelers remained off-field.
Now, celebrities are taking to their various social platforms to show support for the players who choose to protest.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) September 24, 2017
— Uzo Aduba (@UzoAduba) September 24, 2017
I know I shouldn't talk sports, but trump's comments re:NFL further prove he's hellbent on poisoning all aspects of American life.
— John Mayer (@JohnMayer) September 24, 2017
— jesse Williams. (@iJesseWilliams) September 24, 2017
The White House is again urging the firing of people who exercise free speech to fight for equality and justice. Shameful.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) September 23, 2017
As a football fan, I am proud of the NFL players today. Nothing is more American than the right to peacefully protest.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) September 24, 2017