Kneeling during the national anthem

Ronak Mohanty, Staff Writer

Four and a half years ago, former NFL player Colin Kaepernick made history. For the first time during a pregame national anthem, Kaepernick kneeled in protest against police brutality. He was met with a lot of support and a lot of criticism. Some thought he was fighting for a just cause, others thought he was disrespecting our military. He would eventually become a free agent at the end of the 2016-2017 season, but no teams were interested and he hasn’t played since. Many accuse the NFL and its teams of blackballing Kaepernick for his protests. In the wake of the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the shooting of Jacob Blake in the spring and summer of 2020, more athletes than ever started protesting the anthem. Some kneeled, some stayed in the locker room and others linked arms in solidarity. People must know that kneeling during the anthem is perfectly fine.

Kneeling during the national anthem is a First Amendment right for all American citizens. The amendment allows citizens to express their opinions and peacefully protest when they don’t agree with something. That is one nice thing about living in America. Kneeling during the national anthem is not a violent act whatsoever, it is completely peaceful. So while someone may think it’s not right to kneel, that’s only their opinion, they can’t force anyone to stand. And likewise if one chooses to stand, no one can stop them. As former President Barack Obama once said at a CNN Presidential Town Hall regarding Kaepernick’s protests, “In a democracy like ours, there are gonna be a lot of folks who do stuff that we just don’t agree with. But as long as they’re doing it within the law, then we can voice our opinion objecting to it, but it’s also their right.”

Kneeling is also a great way to bring attention to the horrors of police brutality. Ever since modern policing was established in our country police brutality has been an issue affecting people of color, especially African-Americans. According to, Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police and are 1.3 times more likely to be killed while unarmed. This is not acceptable. No one deserves to be killed due to the color of their skin. As Joe Biden mentioned in the final presidential debate of 2020, Black parents often have to talk to their children about how to act in front of a police officer if pulled over. They often say things like “keep your hands on the wheel or dashboard at all times,” or “always keep your hands in view”’. Even one remotely wrong movement could be the difference between life and death. 

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Treyvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Elijah McClain are just a few of the many people we have lost over the years to police brutality. While not all police officers are bad, police brutality is still a huge issue in our country that we need to put an end to. Kneeling during the national anthem is a great way to bring attention to this issue. It makes a statement. Those who refuse to stand are trying to say that not everyone gets the “true liberty and justice” that is promised in America. Kneeling is what gets people talking. It inspires people to have conversations and educate themselves. It inspires people to take action by peacefully protesting and voting. If more people are aware of this issue, then we can work towards a better future.

Some people may think those who kneel are disrespecting our military, but in reality, they are not at all. The people who kneel have no intention of disrespecting the military whatsoever. They are just protesting police brutality. In fact, Colin Kaepernick has voiced his support for the military in an ABC 7 newscast, “I have great respect for men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone, and that’s not happening. I mean people are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up.” In fact, Nate Boyer, a former army veteran and NFL player, Nate Boyer, is the one who suggested that Kaepernick kneel. At first, Kaepernick was sitting to protest, but Boyer thought that was disrespectful to the military. Boyer told Kaepernick that he believed that if he knelt instead, it would show more respect for the military while still making a statement. In an ESPN video, Boyer stated, “I thought kneeling showed reverence in some way, and respect in some way to those who fought and many of those that gave their lives for what that flag in the anthem represents.” Boyer also explained how people kneel when praying or when to propose, both showing signs of respect. 

When Boyer said that he didn’t like it when Kaepernick sat, Kaepernick could’ve just not listened to him since Boyer was only expressing an opinion he felt. However, since Kaepernick had a lot of respect for Boyer and the army he decided to kneel instead. And many after him would be inspired to kneel as well. This movement was never intended to disrespect the military, the military deserves all the respect in the world. In fact, kneeling is not against the U.S. Flag Code at all. So it is in no way disrespectful to our flag or our great military.

Kneeling during the anthem is a constitutional right and is a great way to bring attention to police brutality.