#TakeAKnee: The Importance of NFL Player Protests

Dolphins Take a Knee

Before you get comfortable at your favorite bar stool or sofa to watch today’s NFL games, we would like to take this moment to address what you may see once again at the start of each matchup.

Last week, several NFL players, coaches, general managers, owners and whole teams took a stance by taking a knee during the singing of the National Anthem. Their stance, however, is unclear to some, misunderstood by others, and mischaracterized by media outlets because of Donald Trump’s belligerent comments.

Let us help clear things up: When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee in September 2016, he did so in protest of ongoing racial injustices and the not-guilty verdict of Jeronimo Yanez – the police officer that killed Philando Castile in Minnesota.

Kaepernick’s said, “There are a lot things that are going on that are unjust. People aren't being held accountable for. And that's something that needs to change. That's something that this country stands for freedom, liberty and justice for all. And it's not happening for all right now.”

“Freedom, liberty and justice for all” wasn’t happening then, and one year later, it’s not happening now. Since the murder of Philando Castile, scores of people of color have died at the hands of racist cops or have been brutalized and harassed. Some instances have been caught on camera, but most have not. And cops continue to get away with it, rarely being held accountable by a broken justice system. The most recent instance: two weeks ago former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

These protests were never about disrespecting the flag, our armed forces, and certainly not about Donald Trump. This moment is about the need for action against injustice. Saying otherwise is a deflection from the very real menaces of police brutality and over-policing. In fact, misstating what Kaepernick’s protest is about speaks to the broader racist pattern of silencing people of color and our voices.

But you can help.

Whether you have chosen to boycott the NFL, or you are readying for a day of gridiron entertainment, you can do three simple things to maximize the impact of the message these NFL players are sending:

  1. Stay woke with reliable, influential content and reporting on unwarranted lethal force on people of color.

    Why N.F.L. players started taking a knee during the anthem, The New York Times
    Jason Stockley verdict shows how rare officer convictions are in police shootings, USA Today
    Here’s how badly police violence has divided America, Mother Jones
    Do police kill more White people than Black people?, Snopes.com
    Police Shootings Database, Washington Post

  2. Know your rights. Use Advancement Project and our partners as a resource when it comes to understanding what your rights are when interacting with police and protecting your constitutional rights during police encounters.
  3. While the NFL players have raised national attention, please support the movement and activists on the ground. Through deep relationships, Advancement Project supports grassroots organizations from Ferguson to Florida, to Louisiana and beyond. There are so many grassroots organizations on the ground in need of strategic support and Advancement Project’s campaign, legal and communications teams show up and do just that. Please consider a gift so we can build a stronger movement to make the change we need.