WASHINGTON – Some District of Columbia residents interviewed recently by PJM said the national anthem is an appropriate time to protest and the NFL’s decision to prohibit players from kneeling restricts their First Amendment rights.
One D.C. resident who did not give her name and opposes the NFL’s policy referred to the language of the national anthem as “pretty racist.”
“I absolutely disagree with it. I think that they are kneeling for a reason and I think we need to respect that,” she said, adding players “need to be able to protest what they need to. I don’t care if they’re playing a sport at the time, like, it needs to be said.”
She addressed proponents of the decision who have argued that the national anthem is not the time to protest racial inequality or any other issue.
“The national anthem has always been pretty racist anyway in its language, and I also think like it’s kind of a disservice to the people who fought for the country because they fought for us to be able to do this. And if any time is the time to say it, I think the national anthem is a good time to say it,” the woman said. “I don’t think that it should be held to that regard where you can’t express your freedom of speech, which is the very thing that we fight for.”
Debra from D.C. also disagreed with the league’s decision.
“I think it’s a bad decision because it’s all about freedom expression, freedom of speech,” she said. “I don’t necessarily see it as a protest. I see it as expressing and making the Constitution come to life. You’re using your First Amendment right. I don’t protest. I love this country. I love the flag. I love everything this country stands for, but I think that everyone is entitled to their freedom of opinion.”
Another woman shared a similar view.
“I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t think it’s fair to squash their First Amendment rights and you don’t do the same for other people so, I mean, the other sports’ athletes get to do what they want to do. Why are we targeting the NFL? Because they are one of the biggest sports teams or whatever, that draws the big money, is that it? I don’t know, but I disagree with it,” she said during an interview in Washington.
PJM asked several other commuters for their opinion of the NFL’s decision, but they declined to answer or said they are undecided.
“I’m indecisive, and the reason why: I am a football fan but I need to find out the whole story instead of answering and saying yes or no and why,” one woman said.
A tourist from England she said has an opinion on the issue but chooses not to comment on “political matters.”