The Houston Texans, incensed by team owner Bob McNair’s poorly worded description of players as “inmates,” staged a mass protest during the national anthem prior to Houston’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Virtually all Texans knelt for the anthem, locking arms or holding hands on the sideline. National media in attendance put the number of players standing at about 10. At the NFL owners’ meetings last week, McNair had expressed frustration with the way that the protest had affected the NFL’s business, and said, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.” He apologized on at least two occasions for that unfortunate turn of phrase, but players were not convinced. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins left the Texans’ facility on Friday after learning of the comments.
The Texans had discussed several options for protest prior to Sunday’s game, including kneeling, sitting, remaining in the locker room during the anthem or peeling the Texans’ logo off their helmets. Clearly, the protest was large, one of the most significant by any single team to date, but not unanimous.
This marked the first time any Texans players had protested during the anthem. Offensive tackle Duane Brown had raised a fist last season, the only demonstration the Texans had shown since protests began in the 2016 preseason. On Friday, Brown called McNair’s comments “embarrassing, ignorant and frustrating.”
Empty sidelines in Nashville and Chicago. Jacksonville owner Shad Khan standing arm in arm with his players. The Miami Dolphins wearing “I’m With Kap” T-shirts during warm-ups. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis eloquently explaining his change of heart about players protesting during the national anthem. The NFL had one of its finest moments before the games even began Sunday, coming together from every corner – players, coaches, owners and league office – in forceful rebuke of the latest torrent of hate from President Donald Trump.
Whether black, white or brown, on bended knee or with locked arms, the NFL’s rare show of unity was both a dignified condemnation of the wrongs we still must right and a reminder that, for all of our differences, America remains our common ground. “Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire,” Davis said in a statement. “… Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers.“That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.”
Be it Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali,Billie Jean King or Magic Johnson, sports has long been the prism through which we see society. And fondly as we regard those trailblazers now, that wasn’t always the case. Changing hearts and minds, getting people to shed their stereotypes and ignorance, took sacrifice, anger and, yes, even protest.
In that way, the NFL’s league-wide show of unity was merely the latest in a long history of sports and activism being intertwined. It wasn’t even particularly radical when measured against the outspokenness and activism by current NBA players and coaches.
But what made Sunday so stunning was how out of character it was, a seismic shift for a league that has been loath to allow any kind of individuality or personal expression. The NFL barely tolerates touchdown celebrations, let alone a call to acknowledge the pervasive racism that marginalizes a good portion of our country.
Maybe that’s what Trump was counting on with his remarks Friday — and again Saturday and Sunday — that were as ignorant as they were inflammatory, yet more racist dog whistles for his base. Perhaps he figured the league that has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick would let his thinly veiled bigotry pass in uncomfortable silence.
But the NFL showed Sunday that Trump has badly overplayed his hand.
“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country,” the Seattle Seahawks said in a statement announcing that the team would stay in the locker room during the national anthem.
Even in a league where blinders might as well be part of the uniform, it was not lost on anyone that Trump found a way to defend Nazi protesters yet called Kaepernick and anyone else who protested during the national anthem a “son of a (expletive).” Ditto for his history of calling out and criticizing people of color while letting egregious behavior by whites go unchallenged.
The demonstrations by Kaepernick and the other players who have joined in are not about the national anthem or the military or the flag. They never have been. They are about the racism that continues to be pervasive in our society, manifesting itself in police brutality, economic inequality and disparity in education and opportunity.
No one is naïve enough to assume the NFL will now be the standard bearer in this latest fight for civil rights; moving as all the demonstrations were, it did not go unnoticed that the theme was “unity” rather than inequality, and that very few white players took a knee.
BALTIMORE (AP) — The CEO of Baltimore-based sports apparel company Under Armour is responding to criticism he received after calling President Donald Trump “an asset to the country.” Kevin Plank wrote an open letter to Baltimore published as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun Wednesday.
He wrote that his choice of words during an interview with CNBC last week “did not accurately reflect my intent.” Three celebrities the company sponsors — basketball star Stephen Curry, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ballerina Misty Copeland — were among those voicing concerns about his praise of Trump.
Plank says the company stands for equal rights and job creation and believes “immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America.” He says the company opposes the president’s travel ban.
One year after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by Darren Wilson, a white ex-officer in Ferguson, Mo., family and activists gathered Sunday to commemorate the shooting that touched off a movement against police violence.
Scores gathered Sunday to participate in 4.5 minutes of silence, and a silent march to Greater St. Mark’s church, according to The Associated Press. The march was scheduled to get just before noon at the site where Wilson gunned down Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. “A grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November,” writes the news outlet.
The events are among several this weekend in Ferguson and nearby St. Louis.
The still grieving Michael Brown Sr., Brown’s father, led a march of about 100 people on Saturday. He called for a nonviolent weekend. “I want to have a peaceful weekend,” said Brown, according to KSDK. “No drama, no stupidity.”
In a recent NPR interview at the White House, part of which aired Sunday, President Obama told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that had Ferguson flared up in his first term, he would have addressed it, brushing back criticism that he failed to address issues of race after entering office.
“That I don’t buy,” Obama told NPR.”I think it’s fair to say that if, in my first term, Ferguson had flared up, as president of the United States, I would have been commenting on what was happening in Ferguson.”
Days after announcing his song “Baltimore,” a tribute to Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered a fatal spinal-cord injury while in police custody, Prince has announced a surprise “Rally 4 Peace” concert in Baltimore. It will be held Sunday at Royal Farms Arena.
“In a spirit of healing, the event is meant to be a catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the U.S.,” Live Nation, the concert promoter, said in a statement. “As a symbolic message of our shared humanity and love for one another, attendees are invited to wear something gray in tribute to all those recently lost in the violence.”
Tickets go on sale today at 5 p.m. EST at LiveNation.com. Part of the proceeds will benefit Baltimore youth charities, organizers said.
While “Baltimore” has yet to be released — Prince said he was considering streaming the track on Jay Z’s Tidal service — its lyrics were made available online. The song begins:
Nobody got in nobody’s way
So I guess you could say
It was a good day
At least a little better than the day in Baltimore
A police officer’s kind words during a period of unrest over the death of Freddie Gray touched many across Baltimore, who have for so long witnessed police violence in their communities.
Sgt. K Glanville spoke to a crowd on Saturday during a festive rally about her role as a police officer and expressed that not all officers are in the business of harming unarmed civilians. Glanville retold stories of her encounters with pedestrians in the city and says she understands why so many have questioned the tactics of police officers.
The mother says she gives out her number to children in an effort to show she is a protector of the community. According to the Huffington Post,
“My heart is in this,” Glanville told a small crowd. “I’m not wasting time on someone that’s not trying to let me in, when I got all these other people that got the door wide open, saying ‘Sgt. Glanville, please step in.’ I am here, I’m available. I give kids my phone number, I tell people ‘you need something, you call me.’ It all starts with relationship building.”
A Baltimore native and a 19-year veteran, the officer has never received a complaint. Her speech brought tears to the eyes of many in the small crowd. Glanville told onlookers that everyone has to start working together to stop the problem of police violence.
”We have to start doing better,” Glanville told the crowd. “We know better, and we have to start doing better. It doesn’t matter what color you are. People are watching to see the next move that Baltimore makes coming out of this … I want other cities to look at this and be able to see a template….And the main thing we need to do is make sure these babies are ok.”
The following day, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the overnight curfew would be lifted effective immediately. In a statement, Rawlings-Blake expressed that the curfew had helped reduce violence in the city following last Monday’s riots after Gray’s funeral.
Check out Glanville’s speech to the city of Baltimore below:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The start of Missouri’s legislative session was interrupted Wednesday by demonstrators who chanted and unfurled banners in the Senate while protesting the fatal Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who was presiding over the chamber, said demonstrators were violating Senate rules of decorum and ordered proceedings suspended while police cleared people from the visitors’ galleries. The Senate resumed after about 30 minutes, but no one was allowed to return to the visitors’ section.
Protest leaders and a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety said no one was arrested.
Demonstrators vowed to return to the Capitol throughout this year’s session as lawmakers consider numerous bills stemming from the Aug. 9 shooting of the black, unarmed 18-year-old by officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. A grand jury decided not to charge Wilson, who later resigned.
“Our hope is they take what we did seriously,” said one of the protest leaders, Kayla Reed, of the Organization for Black Struggle. “What people need to understand is that 152 days into this, we’re not stopping — we’re really just getting starting.”
Demonstrators distributed a 28-point plan for changes to police practices, including “anti-racism training,” greater citizen oversight of police agencies and an end to the police acquisition of military-grade equipment.
As the Senate convened, chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace” echoed from the hallways into the chamber. Both chants have been common rallying cries at protests in Ferguson and across the nation by people who believe minorities are too often the targets of overzealous police.
Dozens of protesters intermingled among relatives and friends of newly elected Missouri senators who were seated in the visitors’ galleries to watch lawmakers take the oath of office. They unfurled several banners. One said, “Swear to protect the people.”
Kinder, a Republican, banged the gavel and declared that protesters had “rudely inserted yourself into the solemn proceeding.” But protesters continued with chants — “It is our duty to fight for our freedom” and “Black lives matter” — as they were escorted from the chamber.