Sign the petition: Defend NFL players' and other athletes' free speech
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Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Color of Change
Defending Rights & Dissent
Democracy in Color
Jobs With Justice
People For the American Way
United We Dream
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains a repeated target of attacks on cable news outlets and social media. His crime? Peacefully protesting U.S. police brutality, including unpunished murders of black people.
Kaepernick famously “took a knee” during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice and police violence. His actions — and those of other athletes (before him, and recently inspired by him) — are well in keeping with America’s proud heritage of peaceful dissent. And yet, many attribute his inability to get a job with the NFL to his brave decision to protest.
In an intentionally divisive move, President Trump has inserted himself squarely into this debate, attacking Kaepernick, NBA star Steph Curry, and any player who expresses support for Kaepernick or for “taking a knee” during the anthem. He has encouraged the NFL to respond to players’ peaceful protest by firing them.
Through his threats of retaliation, the president is stoking divisions and potentially violating the First Amendment rights of athletes. He’s setting a precedent that could be used against all Americans. What’s more is Trump’s clear hypocrisy — while he sees white supremacists inciting violence in Charlottesville as “very fine people,” players of color who use their First Amendment right to kneel in peaceful protest against police brutality and racial injustice are, according to him, “son[s] of a bitch.”
To: All NFL Team Owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
We need you to say loud and clear that you support athletes’ — and all Americans’ — right to free speech. We call on you to do more than make public statements: Act in solidarity with athletes who engage in peaceful protests.
Protest is an action taken to call attention to demands for change. Expressing solidarity with protesters, accordingly, brings with it a responsibility to hear out those demands and engage in dialogue. We urge the league and owners to listen to, seriously consider, and respond to the players' expressed concerns and requests around racial equity and criminal justice reform.
Sign the petition to all NFL team owners and the league. Call on them to stand in solidarity with protesting athletes and to take substantive action in support of their efforts.
Americans have long recognized that peaceful protest can be an act of patriotism, and that shouldn’t stop now that racial justice is at the forefront. We need the NFL to lead on this issue, especially because of the power dynamics at play: NFL rosters are 70% black, while many owners, who make billions from black players, are white. So our message to NFL team owners and the league leadership includes a request that they listen to and seriously consider the substantive demands for change from NFL players.