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Standing, Sitting, Kneeling, and Tweeting

Dallas Dykes, Social Media Head

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A Controversy is Born

 

On August 14th, 2016 Colin Kaepernick attended the 49ers first preseason game, and when the National Anthem had begun he remained seated. Initially, few noticed or payed attention to this rebellious act. Kaepernick would not be playing in that game, nor would he be in uniform, so no one gave him any attention. The same thing occurred on August 20th, 2016 during the team’s 2nd preseason game, again Kaepernick was not in uniform, and again he didn’t play. It wasn’t until the 26th when he was recognized sitting in uniform, and subsequently gained national attention.  After the game Colin told reporters “I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed. When there’s significant change and I feel that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”  He went on to explain “I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening.”  Kaepernick also spoke about this protest as being “something that can unify this team. It’s something that can unify this country.” Colin was quickly met with various critics, seeing the protest as extremely disrespectful. It was also brought into question whether or not it was acceptable for Colin to bring his political views into the workplace, some deeming the protest unprofessional. On September 1st, 2016 the protest changed slightly. Colin joined by Eric Reed instead opted to kneel during the Anthem instead of sit. It was later explained by Kaepernick that this was to “get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country”.  The NFL Seahawks later began to embrace the protest and were one of the first teams to link arms in place of a kneel.  These few events laid the foundation of future protests and various teams and players would join in.

 

Las Vegas Encounter

The protest had  quickly gained a lot of traction and later spread to a variety of different teams who were showing support in various ways which included kneeling, sitting and locking arms during the anthem. Some teams even opted to stay in their locker rooms during the anthem, which was met with mixed reactions. Among these teams, certain players became more vocal on the protest itself. Many stepped forward to explain the reasoning behind their actions. Among these players was the Seahawks Defensive end-Michael Bennett- who spoke to CNN about his decision to start kneeling after the events in Charlottesville. “It was just a tipping point to see so much hate, and see so much hatred toward people. At the end of the day for me, it’s about being a human being,” Bennett said. “And when those things are going on, there’s no way I could go out and try to hide behind the game.” Even more attention was place on Bennett  August 26th, when an alleged use of excessive force took place in Las Vegas . Bennett detailed the incident in a letter posted over twitter.

 

Bennett said Las Vegas police ordered him to the ground at gunpoint and threatened to “blow my ******* head off” for “simply being a black man” after it was believed a shooting happened on the strip.

“It’s a tough situation for me,” Bennett said at the conference Wednesday. “Do I think every police officer is bad? No … Do I believe some people judge people on the color of their skin? I do believe that.” Bennetts recap of events was very disturbing and he received support from from both fans and fellow team members alike, including Kaepernick who said  “This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust,” Kaepernick wrote on Twitter. “I stand with Michael and I stand with the people.”  The New Vegas Police Union responded a day later asking the NFL to investigate Michael Bennett’s claims. “We believe that a fair investigation will establish that our officers responded to one of the most dangerous calls a law enforcement officer can be assigned – an active shooter firing rounds in a crowded casino,” Detective and union president Steve Grammas wrote in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. It was stated after viewing of footage recording the event that “As our officers entered the casino, they observed Bennett hiding behind a slot machine. When officers turned towards Bennett, he bolted out of the casino, leaped over a four  foot barrier wall, and hid from officers as he crouched close to the wall on the sidewalk……..Our officers, who are both minorities, had the legal right, and obligation, to detain Bennett based upon the nature of the call and Bennett’s unusual and suspicious actions,” Grammas wrote. The NFL never initiated an investigation into the incident and Bennett hadn’t filed a police report following the incident.

 

 

Tweeting

On Sep. 22 Donald Trump was very outspoken regarding the kneeling controversy. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said this to loud applause. He also went on to claim that the NFL’s declining ratings were directly linked to the kneeling controversy, and advised that fans boycott the NFL until the kneeling subsided. “I guarantee things will stop,” he said. Roger Goodell responded calling Trumps comments “divisive”. President Trumps comments soon sparked backlash when 130 players sat, knelt and locked arms the following sunday. This back and forth between the NFL and Trump continued with Trump tweeting about the incident 23 times from Sep 23rd to the 30th,

 

Sep 25th- Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!

Sep 25th- So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!

Sep 24th- Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!

Sep 24th- Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag — we MUST honor and respect it!  MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

 

 

This in turn sparked even more protests. The back and forth has calmed down as of recent but the anthem protests continue.

My Opinion

When it comes to the protest itself and how well it does as a protest I think it fails utterly. The majority of discussion surrounding the Anthem protest is about the Kneeling itself, being very surface level. Actual discussion about police brutality, oppression, and genuine racism in our society isn’t happening. Given this the Anthem  protest has the same issue as Flag burning, another very controversial form of protest. What Flag burning does, like the anthem protest,  is create outrage and heated discussion about flag burning itself.  You aren’t convincing others of your point of view. You are instead smearing your own voice because now many individuals will simply associate you with “disrespect for the country” meaning the patriots in our society or those who associate the sacrifices of their loved ones with the flag and the anthem most likely won’t hear you out. You lose a large portion of the American audience that way, therefore it is not a tactful to spread your message of unity. You are instead creating your own divisions in an already divided nation.

 

Trumps response to the protest itself is also fairly upsetting. He is passionate clearly, but he also creates divisions, generating more arguments that lead nowhere. As a president I think it should be expected for him to be more respectful and rationale with his platform. Not going off and saying things like “Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” His continuous twitter rant went on and on for days, and this only generated more protests in response. In the future he needs to be more subtle and respectful with his opinions. By no means am I saying he shouldn’t speak at all, but he needs to improve how he delivers his message.

 

The NFL’s response to Trump is also embarrassing.  At that point in time the protest seemed to become distracted from it’s original goal given more people protested in response to the president then joining in on the merit of the protest’s message alone, making this appear as an infantile way to spite him.

 

In the case of Michael Bennett, the holes in his story seem too big not to talk about. The footage of the incident shows Bennett running from officers and looking suspicious, and his claims that he was singled out for being a black man are contradicted by the fact that multiple minorities were in the area and that the officers themselves were minorities. Given that his story is so off with events displayed it’s disappointing that  Kaepernick gave and never retracted his support of bennett. True racial based crimes do happen but fabricating your own is disgusting and you should be looked down upon for doing such a despicable thing. Bennett is not someone who should be representing the Anthem Protest and he only takes away from its credibility as a message for the opposal of racial injustice.

 

Overall the Protest divides more than it unifies and I believe it should be permitted but it should also be ignored. What do you think?

 

Dallas Dykes, Social Media Head

Hello! My name is Dallas Dykes, a junior who's ecstatic to have the opportunity to write for Conrads very own Howler. I enjoy long walks on the beach and...

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