Hundreds of players and former players, coaches, owners, and sports pundits have spoken out against Donald Trump this weekend, after his Friday “son of a bitch” comment at an Alabama rally. Trump, who likely broke the law while using his office to try and shut down free speech, has only doubled down on his comments, calling for Americans to boycott the NFL.
Now, even an anthem performer has joined the protest:
Recording artist and Detroit native Rico LaVelle performed the anthem as usual, before immediately dropping to one knee and raising a fist in solidarity with protesters.
You can watch a video of his performance below:
The national anthem in Detroit ended on one knee pic.twitter.com/7Fi3wSjHSb
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 24, 2017
The singer has faced criticism on social media, with angry Trump supporters brigading his Facebook page’s reviews. However, many were also supportive:
It’s important to note that for Trump and his fans, this protest was never about the flag. It isn’t now, and it wasn’t when it was just Colin Kaepernick protesting police violence on his own. It has been about race from the start, as data shows. Bustle points out that the imagery strongly resembles the protest at the 1968 Olympics:
‘As Niraj Warikoo, a staff writer for the Detroit Free Press, pointed out, the photo of LaVelle kneeling with his fist in the air evoked the memory of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, when American gold and bronze medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised their fists throughout the entire national anthem.
‘According to David Davis of the Smithsonian, the athletes wore a black glove to symbolize black strength and unity, and wore black socks and no shoes to symbolize African-American poverty. It is known as one of the most political moments in Olympic history.’
And the photo of LaVelle does definitely bear striking similarities to the iconic photo.
If Trump fans cared about the flag, they’d pay attention to the laws that govern how it is supposed to be treated — and nowhere in any regulation does it state you can’t kneel during the national anthem. If you’re a member of the military or a color guard of some sort, it could be construed as a conduct violation, but that’s about it. Here’s a great thread talking about the things that REALLY count as “disrespect” to the flag, which no Trump supporter has ever taken issue with:
Making the conversation about the flag, rather than police violence, is a tactic Trump’s camp has successfully used to prevent real public discourse on what is still the real issue here — the deaths of black people at the hands of police. It was never about the flag; it was about undermining the argument being made by attacking the form, rather discussing the argument itself.
And it’s never good enough. There is no form of protest Colin Kaepernick could have done that would have pleased Trump’s supporters. There is no statement he can make, no matter how reasonable, that will please them. His speech itself is the true source of their anger. If they see it, they’re going to be mad. If they don’t, there’s no point to the protest in the first place. Protest and the exercise of free speech is what this country was founded on. Trump’s attacks on free speech are far more un-American than kneeling respectfully in protest.
Featured image via video screencapture