Photo Credit: Associated Press
Just last year, athletes following Colin Kaepernick’s lead by kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice was a controversial move called out by detractors like the president as unpatriotic. But as pro sports begin to resume after this year’s coronavirus hiatus and the aftermath of nationwide protests against police brutality, apparently some are now adopting the gesture.
Several member of the San Francisco Giants kneeled before an exhibition game with the Oakland A’s as the national anthem played Monday night, according to Bleacher Report. They were led by team manager Gabe Kapler and he was joined by first base coach Antoan Richardson and also right fielders Jaylin Davis, Mike Yastrzemski and left fielder Austin Slater. Shortstop Brandon Crawford remained standing, but put his hands on Richardson and Davis’ shoulders.
USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale tweeted that Kapler is the first manager in MLB to use the kneeling gesture to protest against racist police brutality. The Athletic reporter Andrew Baggarly tweeted what Kapler said in a player’s meeting.
"I wanted them to know that I wasn't pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality. I told them I wanted to amplify the voices of the Black community and marginalized communities as well. I told them that I wanted to use my platform to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with ... clear systemic racism in our country."
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick brought the gesture to prominence during the 2016 NFL season. He left the team after the season as a free agent and has not played a professional game since. However, other athletes, both pro, college and even high school players have followed his lead.
Giants president Farhan Zaidi said in a statement to The Athletic that he is “proud” of the team members for taking a stand by kneeling.
“We support those who knelt to peacefully protest racial injustice and those who stood to express love of country,” Zaidi said. “We do not see these as mutually exclusive sentiments and believe the freedom to express both is what our country is about.”
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