Since Friday, President Donald Trump and NFL players, owners and fans, along with athletes from other sports, and everyday Americans have been locked in a heated feud over players who kneed during the pre-game playing of the national anthem as a form of protest about social injustices in American culture. People from outside the sports world, like famous musicians, have also joined in protesting the president, and on Monday night a member of U.S. Congress did so too.
Trump ignited the firestorm on Friday night while speaking at a campaign event for a U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama. Referring to Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback whom many speculate is out of job due to his protesting of the national anthem, which began in 2016 during the NFL preseason, Trump said, “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 then has continued to foment the anger that ensued over his comments with a series of tweets on the topic. Meanwhile, NFL games on Sunday were marked by mass protests by players, coaches and owners. The Pittsburgh Steelers, save for one player, a former Army Ranger, stayed in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem. By Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys, also known as “America’s Team,” and its billionaire owner linked arms and took a knee on the field, but eventually stood, still with locked arms, for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Also on Monday evening, the protest of Trump’s assault on the First Amendment had spread to the floor of the United States House of Representatives, courtesy of a Congresswoman from Texas. U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, bent down on one knee on the House floor “in honor” of the NFL players, she said.
“There is no basis in the First Amendment that says you cannot kneel on the national anthem or in front of the flag,” Jackson Lee said. “That is racism. You cannot deny it, you cannot run for it. I kneel in honor of the First Amendment. I kneel because the flag is a symbol for freedom,” the congresswoman continued. “I kneel because I’m going to stand against racism. I kneel because I will stand with those young men and I’ll stand with our soldiers. And I’ll stand with America, because I kneel.
Jackson Lee then criticized Trump for “dishonoring [the players’] mothers” and then issued a full-throated defense of the First Amendment. She also tweeted about it, and shared video of the her remarks. Watch the full statement and her powerful show of protest and support below.
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