Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco quarterback for the 49ers, began the movement of “taking a knee” in August 2016.
It began with Kaepernick sitting down during the national anthem. This occurred as a form of protest against police brutality about a month after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot by the police.
Former NFL player and U.S. Army veteran, Nate Boyer, was the person who suggested kneeling during the national anthem instead of sitting. “Soldiers take a knee in front of fallen brothers, […] to show respect,” Boyer told HBO.
Since then, the movement of kneeling during the national anthem has gained worldwide attention, and it has been met with much controversy. While some, Colin Kaepernick included, see it as a way to protest, others, such as President Donald Trump, see it as a form of disrespect.
“I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem,” President Trump told reporters at the Rose Garden, “I was ashamed of what was taking place.” He believes that those who kneel during the national anthem should be fired.
49ers owner, Jed York, disagreed with the president’s statement. “Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice,” he stated, defending the NFL’s actions.
Due to the controversy, Stoutonia was curious about the opinions held by University of Wisconsin–Stout students and decided ask several undergraduates about their opinions on the situation.
“I think what Kaepernick is doing is a beautiful representation of non-violent protest.” Lois Cassell, a sophomore. When asked to expand on her opinion, she added, “It seems like there’s no right way for a black man to protest. […] It’s their first amendment right.”
“I have no problem with what they’re doing. […] I fully support it” Connor Bowe, another UW–Stout student, said. While he agrees with the message of the movement, he is suspicious about Kaepernick’s intentions. “Are you doing this out of generosity or are you doing this to save your career?” he asked.
According to Bowe, around the time that Colin Kaepernick started his movement of “taking a knee,” there were rumors that he would be fired from the 49ers. So, while Bowe doesn’t disagree with the movement, he isn’t entirely trustful of Kaepernick either.
Levi Hanson, a freshman, thinks that the NFL should find a different way to protest, as kneeling during the national anthem is, “rebellious and disrespectful,” he said.
“I don’t necessarily disagree with what they’re doing,” Hanson said, “I’d rather see them do it in a different way.”
Since Donald Trump stated on Sept. 24 that players that kneel during the national anthem should be fired, many teams and team owners have joined the movement, drawing even more attention to it than before.