In solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and National Football League (NFL) players as well as coaches and owners, 16 members of New York City Council “took a knee” in front of City Hall, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 at noon.
Jumaane Williams and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito held a version of Kaepernick’s SF 49ers red jersey sporting the number 7 at the “kneel in.”
They were joined by Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Queens), Daneek Miller (D-Queens), Inez Barron (D-Brooklyn), Andy King (D-Bronx), Annabel Palma (D-Bronx), Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), Donovan Richards (D-Queens), among others.
One year ago, while playing for the 49ers, Kaepernick began a silent protest kneeling, pre-game, during the national anthem. He particularly wanted to draw attention to the treatment toward and recent spate of police shootings of people of color in the United States. Numerous other athletes as well as others have taken public positions in support of or maligning his actions.
At a political rally in Alabama this past weekend, President Donald Trump cursed him out and said that players that kneel during the anthem should be fired. The President’s statements have led to additional showings of solidarity with Kaepernick by many more players as well as league owners.
In response to President Trump’s weekend comments that players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired, Williams said, “Protesting is probably the most American thing that one can do. Everything we enjoy in this country is because of protesting.” He particularly noted how this is peaceful protest and that protests are one of the most important avenues to affect social change.
Following the City Hall “kneel in,” City Council member Brad Lander said, “We’re here in solidarity with people who are just merely expressing their free-speech rights in the cause of racial justice.”
This action was called for because participating City Council members believe that President Trump is ignoring the issues that players are protesting, and that instead he is attacking the athletes.
They are hoping that the action will shine a spotlight on the issues of racial justice for which players around the country “take a knee.”
It is also not unnoticed that more pressing matters such as the aftermath of the disasters in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands seem to be neglected as the President attacks NFL players.