During the 2016 NFL preseason, Colin Kaepernick began protesting during the national anthem. What, at the time, seemed like an isolated act has since turned into a social touchstone; almost four years later, we’re still seeing similar gestures around the country. On Monday, several members of the San Francisco Giants joined in, taking a knee before their game against the Oakland A’s.
Several San Francisco Giants took a knee during the national anthem
In September 2017, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the national anthem before a game against the Texas Rangers. While no one else in Major League Baseball joined him in protest, that all changed on Monday.
As reported by USA Today, manager Gabe Kapler, Jaylin Davis, coach Antoan Richardson, Austin Slater, and Mike Yastrzemski, all took a knee before the game. Kapler apparently told his team about his plan to kneel and vowed to support his team, whether they joined him in protest or not.
“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality, and I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and I wanted to amplify the voice of the Black community and marginalized communities as well,” Kapler explained, according to ESPN News Services.
“So I told them that I wanted to use my platform to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the way we’ve handled racism in our country,” he continued. “I wanted to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with our clear systemic racism in our country, and I wanted them to know that they got to make their own decisions, and we would respect and support those decisions. I wanted them to feel safe in speaking up.”
Donald Trump and Aubrey Huff blasted the San Francisco Giants on Twitter
While Major League Baseball offered an endorsement of the Giants’ protest on Twitter, not everyone was pleased with the protest. Former Giant Aubrey Huff and Donald Trump, among others, took the chance to criticize the ball club.
Huff, who has a history of making offensive comments on social media, tweeted that he was “proud” that the Giants hadn’t invited him to the reunion of the 2010 World Series-winning squad. He also said that “all lives matter,” criticized Kappler, and claimed that the Giants Major League Baseball were reminding people of “the crazy world they live in” instead of offering an escape.
On Tuesday morning, Donald Trump joined in. Relying on his usual talking points about national anthem protests, he tweeted about players showing “great disrespect” for the flag by kneeling during the national anthem.
Aubrey Huff and Donald Trump are still missing the point of kneeling during the national anthem
As you might imagine, Aubrey Huff and Donald Trump are never shy about sharing their opinions on social media. When it comes to these sports protests, though, they’re either willfully ignorant or missing the point.
If you look at Kapler’s words, the Giants manager specifically said that he wanted to show dissatisfaction with police brutality and racism. That’s similar to Colin Kaepernick himself said in 2016; you can take issue with certain aspects of American life—and protest against them—without hating the country and being anti-American.
“The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-men-and-women of the military, and that’s not the case at all,’’ Kaepernick once explained, according to USA Today. “I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee, so I have the utmost respect for them. I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.’’
Nearly four years after Kaepernick first protested, it seems clear that players and coaches kneeling during the national anthem won’t stop anytime soon. At this point, it should be clear what they’re (figuratively) standing up against.