Yesterday I wrote about the criminalization of peaceful, nonviolent protest.
Last night I came across the following video of U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke responding to the question of whether National Football League (NFL) players taking a knee during the national anthem was disrespectful.
Before he addressed the question specifically, he thanked the person for asking the question, saying we will never resolve difficult issues if we don’t talk about them. Next he said reasonable people can come down on either side of the issue, either being just as American as the other.
He then explained why he did not think it was disrespectful for the NFC players to take a knee. He said our freedoms have not only been won by the military (and thanked the veterans in the audience for their service), but also by Americans who put their lives on the line, peacefully protesting. He spoke about Martin Luther King and the struggles for civil rights. He mentioned those killed and imprisoned. The bravery of the Freedom Riders.
Congressman O’Rourke then said “nonviolent protests, including taking a knee at a football game to point out that Black men, unarmed, Black teenagers, unarmed and Black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now including by members of law enforcement without accountability and without justice. And this problem, as grave as it is not going to fix itself and they’re frustrated frankly with people like me and those in positions of public trust and power who have been unable to resolve this or bring justice for what has been done and to stop it from continuing to happen in this country. And so non-violently, peacefully while the eyes of this country are watching these games they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it. That is why they are doing it and I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up or taking the knee.”