Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson kneel during the national anthem before an NFL preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Hard Rock Stadium, Aug. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo: Screenshot)

Racist President at It Again: Trump Claims Kneeling NFL Players 'Unable to Define' What They're Protesting

"NFL players have continuously defined what they're protesting: white supremacy, police brutality, and racial injustice. You're not listening."

Jake Johnson

Despite the fact that NFL players have been extremely clear that their pre-game National Anthem demonstrations—which have included kneeling, locked arms, and raised fists—are aimed at calling attention to America's appalling levels of systemic racism and police brutality, President Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets on Friday accusing the athletes of being "unable to define" what they're protesting and warned that they will be "suspended without pay" if they continue to kneel.

"The NFL players are at it again—taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem," Trump wrote. "Find another way to protest."

Trump's latest NFL Twitter tirade came after several players from the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles kneeled or raised their fists ahead of their teams' Thursday night preseason match-ups.

In a tweet ahead of Thursday's game, Malcolm Jenkins—an Eagles player who raised his fist during the anthem—highlighted the disproportionate effect mass incarceration has on minorities, writing, "Before we enjoy this game let's take some time to ponder that more than 60 percent of the prison population are people of color."

Further undermining Trump's boldfaced lie that NFL players don't know what they're protesting against, numerous players have worn warm-up shirts that—like Jenkins'—highlighted such issues as widespread voter disenfranchisement and lack of funding for education.

"1.68 million formerly incarcerated citizens do not have the right to vote in the state of Florida," read a shirt worn by one Eagles player before Thursday night's game.

Last week, New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis posted a photo of his #SchoolsNotPrisons shirt on Twitter:

"NFL players have continuously defined what they’re protesting: white supremacy, police brutality, and racial injustice," the ACLU wrote in response to Trump's tweet. "You're not listening."

In a tweet following Thursday's preseason games, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick—who started the kneeling protests in 2016 to call attention to police brutality and other forms of systemic oppression—applauded the players who knelt during the National Anthem, urging them to "stay strong."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Truss' Tories Plan to Slash Public Spending While Clinging to Chaos-Causing Tax Cuts

"When the IMF tells you, 'hang on guys, this is going to be so bad for inequality it needs a rethink,' you've got a serious problem," one U.K. activist said of the new mini-budget.

Jessica Corbett ·

Sanders, Kaine Hail US Senate's Passage of Brazil Election Resolution

"It is important for the people of Brazil to know we're on their side, on the side of democracy," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "With passage of this resolution, we are sending that message."

Brett Wilkins ·

Highland Park Victims Sue Gun-Maker, Stores Over Negligence and Deceptive Practices

Lawyers argued that the "shooter was the type of a young consumer susceptible to Smith & Wesson's deceptive and unfair marketing, and was enabled by his father."

Julia Conley ·

NC Dems Plead for Cash as Beasley Deadlocked With GOP Opponent in Decisive US Senate Race

Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley has a one-point lead, but Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is getting more support from the Republican Party.

Kenny Stancil ·

'Yeah, Right': Pentagon Report Claiming US Military Killed Just 12 Civilians Last Year Met With Skepticism

"Once again the confirmed civilian casualty count is below what communities on the ground are reporting," lamented Emily Tripp, director of the monitor group Airwars.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo