Police brutality and discrimination are very prominent issues in America right now holding our country in a bind of disagreement.
In September of 2016, Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback for the 49ers, began protesting against these issues by sitting, then kneeling during the national anthem at NFL football games. The way people are dealing with Kaepernick’s protest has spiraled into something it should never have. People are focused more on whether or not Kaepernick’s protest are disrespecting the flag rather than what the protests are about. The NFL players protests during the national anthem have the right intent, to protest police brutality enacted upon people of color , but it could be executed in a less controversial way.While holding true that the First Amendment protects everyone’s freedom of speech and right to protest peacefully, some people believe that what Kaepernick did is not covered by the first amendment.
Steven Mnuchin, the United States Secretary of Treasury, said ” ‘owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem.’ Mnuchin added that ‘they can do free speech on their own time.’ “(Associated Press, 20) What Mnuchin is saying is that NFL players should not be allowed their First Amendment rights on the field and that the players should be required to stand during the national anthem. When that, in fact, is unlawful because players are allowed their rights whether or not they are on or off of the field. These types of responses were very common especially coming from the White House.
President Trump even stated during a rally in Alabama ” ‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that expletive off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,’ “(Associated Press, 16) These retorts that were coming from the highest office in America were really helping to fuel the protests that were taking place on the field as well as the debates that were taking place off of the field. The justification for Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem is that he has a right, “Not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag).” (US courts, 1) but the argument is that Kaepernick is disrespecting our flag and country because he is kneeling. While both sides of the argument are plausible, the First Amendment protects Kaepernick’s right to protest. Still, some may argue that the Game manual indicates that all NFL players must stand to face the flag with helmets in the left hand during the national anthem. The conflict between the Game operations manual, and what the First Amendment states make the line between the argument of Kaepernick’s actions harder to define.
However the First Amendment is a country-wide law not just a law for the NFL, so the First Amendment overrules the Game operation manual. Many people agreed with why Kaepernick executed his protest during the national anthem but some people disagreed with how the protest was carried out. People are saying that his protest offends the veterans that fought for his right to stand during the anthem. However, Smith, an army veteran, said ” “I wanted to put something out there in the world … to say that ‘There are veterans who not only agree with Colin Kaepernick’s right to do that but also agree with the substance of the action,’ ” Smith said.
“And are willing to stand up and say Black Lives Matter and this is an important issue that we need to address in our country.” “(Walker, 6) This shows that veterans also agree with the protest and that people should stop using veterans as a scapegoat. When NFL players were interviewed, many of them approved of the protest that Kaepernick started. Richard Sherman said ” ‘When a guy takes a knee, you can ignore it. You can say he’s not being patriotic, he’s not honoring the flag,” Sherman said.
“I’m doing none of those things. I’m saying it straight up. This is wrong, and we need to do something.’ “(Booth, 10) The fact is that Kaepernick’s actions will always be controversial but the message and purpose of the protest are not.