The NFL doesn’t think football players have the right to kneel in protest while the national anthem is playing at games. Teams with players who kneel will now have to pay fines.
The gesture, intended to condemn racist police brutality, had been criticized by Republicans as disrespectful to the anthem, the flag, and veterans. The US president even suggested kneeling players should not be in the country.
Americans who support the kneeling players’ protest might look to the Democratic party for support. But minority leader Nancy Pelosi seemed timid while discussing NFL ban on CNN last night. She did not say that she approved of the NFL’s decision to ban the protest—but she didn’t really condemn it, either.
I would be more OK with [the decision] if they had consulted with the players. I don’t think that the players agreed to this, I think that’s the owners—and by the way, it’s the owners who would be fined. I love the national anthem […] I love the national anthem and I love the flag, our homes are all decorated with flags is such a beautiful thing—and I love the First Amendment, and I’ll just leave it at that.
“Nancy Pelosi’s statement has no teeth,” Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter of Greater NY, told Quartz. As the Democratic party’s leader, she should steer the national debate away from nitpicking over the form of the protest, to the protest itself. The real issue, he said, was ”systemic racism, police brutality, and the fact that black lives matter.”
“This is not about [an anthem or] a flag, it’s about [black] people dying,” Newsome added. While Pelosi’s statement alone is unlikely to compromise this fall’s midterm elections, it still does a disservice to Democrat’s black constituents, he said, and shows that “Democrats take the black vote for granted.”
Unsurprisingly, in areas like Queens, NY, his organization is endorsing candidates that challenge mainstream Democratic candidates, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, running in the New York primaries against House Democratic Caucus leader Joseph Crowley.