Donald Trump began Sunday with yet another attack on NFL players kneeling in protest of the national anthem.
Shortly before his treasury secretary insisted the president was not picking a fight, Trump doubled down on his bellicose remarks from a rally in Alabama on Friday night. The president repeated his challenge to NFL team owners to “fire or suspend” any player who fails to stand and encouraged fans to stop attending games until the owners take action.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump wrote on Twitter. “NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back US.”
Such protests began last season when the then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled to highlight issues of racial injustice. On Saturday night, they spilled into another sport, baseball. The Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell kneeled during the anthem before a home game against the Texas Rangers.
Trump’s tweets came at the outset of what was expected to be a day of protest across the NFL. At Wembley Stadium in London, the day’s first game duly saw around 25 players from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens kneel during the playing of the US anthem.
The Guardian’s Sean Ingle, covering the game, reported that no white players appeared to kneel but “many players, coaches and even the Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan linked arms instead as they stood, showing unity for their black team-mates against Trump”.
Mr. 45 is still revving up his racist attacks on national anthem protesters in the NFL.
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