Breaking down this national anthem protest

Cole Jackson, Staff member

Okay, the national anthem protest has taken a turn over the past few weeks. So let’s break this down.

It all started Aug. 14, 2016 when Colin Kaepernick, then the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback, sat during the national anthem. On Aug. 26, his protest gained attention and he made a statement two days later saying he will not, “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He added that his protest has nothing to do with the military saying, “I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country.”

He’s protesting police brutality against minorities and the fact this country hasn’t done a thing to stop it.

His protest was originally met with boos and threats. As the start of the regular season neared however, players’ thoughts on the subject changed. Starting in September 2016, people of many platforms and fame backed Kaepernick’s protest.

NFL players and teams, high school football teams, the NBA, and some who performed the anthem participated in protest. Kaepernick mainly received support from current and former players as well as political figures. He also received hatred for the support of his protest.

His protest is against police brutality to minorities, not America or its military. Just to remind you. Again.

That part seems to leave most people’s mind. They see the protests and think, “They’re anti-military!” or “This is un-American!” when technically, it’s completely American. The First Amendment grants freedom of speech, and to call someone’s way of exercising free speech “un-American” is un-American. Ironic, isn’t it?

The protests seemed to die down as it failed to catch on beyond the same few players and teams throughout the 2016 season, but Oakland Raiders’ running back Marshawn Lynch brought the debate back to national attention in the 2017 preseason. The resurgence of media coverage on the subject sparked a response from President Tweets-Way-Too-Much. He used some colorful language in his statement on how he feels players who protest should be handled.

“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. He’s fired!'” Donald Trump said during a rally in Alabama on Sept. 22.

The NFL responded with a league-wide national anthem protest during Week 3. Players, coaches, and some owners protested by locking arms, kneeling and raising fists. Some teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem. Statements were released before and after games of owners’, coaches’, and players’ reactions to Trump’s comments; many statements called his comments “divisive” and most players took his “son of a bitch” remark personally.

So I guess you could argue that the NFL is protesting against the country; in a sense, they kind of are. They are protesting against the President, who represents the country. But half of America has been protesting against him since his nomination, so what else is new. And I guess you could argue that the protests have a new meaning, and you’d be right: its original reason seems to be lost.

But I know why I’ve protested the anthem before MLB games by kneeling: police brutality is wrong and should be handled more seriously. I remove my hat and place my hand over my heart in respect to the military; I have former and current family members and friends who serve in the military. But despite that, I’ve been side-eyed for kneeling. I haven’t been approached and called out for it, but I guess it helps that so many Bay Area natives go to A’s games.

All I’m saying is as an African-American citizen who is extra cautious about how I dress, act and express myself because I have a higher chance of being looked at as a suspicious armed criminal and being wrongfully shot, police brutality needs to be outlawed in America; and I will continue to protest until it is.