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October 13, 2017

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, may not be as well known for his football career as he is for sparking nation-wide controversy by kneeling during the National Anthem. Kaepernick said his reason for kneeling was to protest racism, and specifically cited police brutality. At the expiration of Kaepernick’s contract he was not re-signed to any NFL team and remains unemployed. However, what started as an individual protest has now gotten the attention of the media, and recently, President Trump, eliciting a widespread, heated conversation regarding racial tension in the United States.

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Take A Knee

Those in favor of taking a knee, argue that the discrimination faced by people of color, and the horrors of police brutality, are important conversations to be had and deserve to get attention. Senior, Sara Mayberry does not find fault with the protests, but rather with the manner in which the President has handled the situation. “I think it’s completely justified and symbolizes solidarity against police brutality,” said Sara. “If anything, I think President Trump should be encouraging police brutality to end. I think he will do a lot just to get a rise out of people in order to build a bigger persona for himself.” Supporters of taking a knee also recognize that the players’ First Amendment rights guarantees them the ability to peacefully protest so their jobs should not be jeopardized because of it. As long as the NFL does not release a statement requiring players to stand for the anthem, there are no grounds for terminating employment. To counter the argument that players should find a less disrespectful way protest, some argue that people in the military fight to protect our democracy, which is based in the freedom to speak out against perceived injustice. Furthermore, some say that players are not protesting the armed forces, but are kneeling for a flag that does not entirely include, represent, and protect them. These players are simply using the platform they have been given to make a statement. Additionally, the entire point of protest is to create conversation in hopes of being a catalyst for change, something that #TakeAKnee has undoubtedly accomplished.

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Take A Stand

The argument against protesting the anthem is based mainly in the means of protest. Some people find kneeling to be disrespectful to the military men and women who risk their lives for American freedom. Devon Becker, a Padua senior, believes everyone who enjoys the freedoms of being a United States citizen and participates in our democracy should stand. “I am disgusted by the disrespect they show toward the country they live in. If they are not happy living here they have the option to move somewhere else.” said Devon. Some find fault specifically with the fact that the people protesting have benefitted from the economic privilege of being employed in professional athletics, therefore, they do not represent the interests of people who are truly marginalized.

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