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Scores of NFL players have knelt during the American national anthem in a peaceful protest against police brutality and racial injustice, days after US President Donald Trump said players who refuse to stand for the anthem should be fired or suspended.

Over 100 players took the knee over the weekend, mirroring the protest of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first knelt during the national anthem in September last year.

Members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars knelt before the weekend’s first game, an exhibition match in London. Players also locked arms in solidarity.

Similar scenes played out stateside. Players for the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, and Detroit Lions also knelt.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks teams elected not to take to the field during the national anthem.

The protests were spurred by a speech supporting Alabama Republican Senator Luther Strange on Friday night, in which Trump said “wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

That speech drew the ire of players and NFL team owners, who roundly supported the right to protest during the anthem.

A series of furious tweets followed, in which Trump lambasted players for choosing to peacefully protest, and retweeted a post saying “you can boycott our anthem… WE CAN BOYCOTT YOU!”.

Go ahead and add ‘NFL teams and their owners’ to the big list of people Trump has immensely pissed off, and don’t expect these protests to just disappear – they’re already starting in other sports, too.


Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Image: Michael Reaves / Getty