There may not be many players kneeling during the National Anthem prior to tonight’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Carolina Panthers.
However, thanks to a Charlotte-area activist group, there will still be plenty of kneelers outside of Bank of America Stadium.
The “kneel in” protest, organized by a group called the Pastors and Community Leaders Coalition, is a response to a recent fatal shooting by Charlotte police.
In a statement Wednesday night, the coalition said their goal is to shed light on “police brutality, lack of accountability for officers who’ve killed innocent and/or unarmed citizens, and the high rates of unemployment for minorities.”
“This is a call for accountability. Kneeling is merely the method we have chosen, it is not the message in its entirety. The message is that there is a deep and very wide gulf between the Black and Brown communities and others in this country, and we are not compelled to stand that,” the statement continued.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo Tuesday to all 32 teams, urging players to stand during the National Anthem.
Here’s part of that league wide memo:
Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.
Despite what many have suggested, that memo did not say anything about forcing league employees to do anything. So, it was essentially a long-winded suggestion, unless the league can agree at next week’s owners meeting to a formal policy change to National Anthem ceremony decorum.
Regardless of the turnout for the “kneel in” protest outside of the stadium, don’t be surprised if you see more player induced controversy during tonight’s Eagles-Panthers game. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has a history of performing his “social injustice” demonstrations beyond the pre-game National Anthem ceremony. Just two weeks ago following a touchdown against the Patriots, Newton raised a clenched fist as a way to “show black pride.”
If these millionaire entertainers really want to use their public platforms to truly improve society, it’s time to stop with the identity politics, and start displaying American pride.