Is it Worth Kneeling: Police Brutality

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Currently there is a big debate over kneeling during the National Anthem. For the past 2 years, the peaceful protest has raised so much controversy and has started public conversations about how the protesters are choosing to be heard without saying anything, but on the other hand, others are saying the gesture is being disrespectful towards the flag and to veterans. The American flag is supposed to represent, “freedom, liberty, and justice for all”, unfortunately those principles are not reflecting of what is happening today. We tend to turn a blind eye on issues we do not understand or can relate to. If we took the time to listen to one another, we would understand whom, what, and why protesters are kneeling.

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It is a tradition to stand at attention with the right hand over the heart while “The Star-Strangled Banner” is playing. Colin Kaepernick was the former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, he began to “take a knee” during the National Anthem during a pre-season game back in 2016. Kaepernick wanted to bring awareness of the many unarmed black men being killed by white police officers. Other athletes from all over the world in many sports other than the NFL, in total, about 200 players have either knelt or sat during the national anthem since the protests began (Coaston, Jane). LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and other NBA players helped the Black Lives Matter movement by wearing supportive gear encouraging everyone to acknowledge the fact that police brutality and the senseless killings of unarmed African- American men is getting out of hand. Not everything about the peaceful protest was acceptable to everyone, Colin Kaepernick had a price to pay, and it had cost him his football career. President Donald Trump had said during one of his rallies that he wished that all NFL players who decides to kneel during the National Anthem should get fired (ESPN). Kaepernick refuses to comment on any recent NFL protests in response to President Donald Trump due to the lack of understanding behind the kneeling.

Police brutality against black men or people of color make the headlines daily; it’s gaining more attention today because it’s being captured with phones and being posted on social media instantly; we no longer wait until the 6 o’clock news for us to see what is happening. People are recording every encounter that they have with law enforcement, which makes the police officer, and their departments accountable for the unnecessary force that results in brutality and even death mostly. Just to name a few incidents, a white male in Florida had stabbed a couple to death and tried to bite their faces off. “The deputy fired her stub gun at the shirtless man, but it had no effect”, other deputies arrived and punched and kicked the suspect. Nothing” (Jr., Cleve R. Wootson). Eric Garner, a black unarmed man, was killed by officers holding him in a chokehold. Police approached Garner, who was unarmed, for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. His death sparked months of protest. The conclusion: A medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a jury declined to indict Pantaleo (Hafner, Josh). Communities are angry due to many of the same cases of senseless shootings and the police are not being held accountable, in a sense, they are getting away with murder. Colin Kaepernick along with the others that are supporting the protest would like for us to at least acknowledge that racism exists. The kneeling protest, has never been about the flag; it was never about the veterans.

In World War II, there were a lot of African- Americans that went to foreign soil to fight, they were fighting for freedoms in a foreign land, and when they came home, they did not enjoy themselves. Under the American flag with those veterans, and the country that they are representing, when they came to it, they are second- class citizens. James G. Thompson, considering his service in the U.S. Army, which was racially segregated during WWII, wrote: “Being an American of dark complexion and some 26 years, these questions flash through my mind: ‘Should I sacrifice my life to live half American?’ ‘Will things be better for the next generation in the peace to follow?’…‘Is the kind of America I know worth defending?’ (Smithsonian). People have lost their lives for this country to have freedom and to have such rights as the First Amendment which states, “The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over another and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government” (LII Staff). The First Amendment is a beautiful thing until we do not agree with the gesture.

Colin Kaepernick is exercising his right peacefully. He also asked a former veteran of a better way protest without disrespecting the veterans or the flag, Army vet and former Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer, “I expressed to him, maybe there’s a different way of demonstrating, where you’re showing more respect for those who laid down their lives for what that flag and anthem stand for,” Boyer said of his conversation with Kaepernick. “I suggested kneeling, because people kneel to pray; we’ll kneel in front of a fallen brother’s grave” (Ruiz, Steven).

The race issue goes back over 400 years ago, and we still deal with this today. We’re not going to find a solution in a year and not in two years. We must start with ourselves, and we must become educated with concerns that are happening around us, and the rights that we all have. Some people will only stand up for what is right when it affects them personally, but we should not wait if the problem is now, instead we all should stand for what is right. Some may have never experienced such problems, but we can try to understand it from different perceptives as the cop, the veteran, the African-American male, and even as the prosecutors. For the most part, the kneeling protest was never intended to disrespect the flag nor our veterans of the past present, or future. 

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Is It Worth Kneeling: Police Brutality. (2022, Feb 06). Retrieved June 6, 2023 , from

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