In a twist on kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a former “American Idol” runner-up sang the national anthem during the Raiders-Chargers game Sunday in Oakland, then took a knee.
Sunday night, season 11 contestant Jessica Sanchez posted on her Facebook page, “Some people stand for what they believe in and some people kneel. Some people are proud to be an American, others are humbled to be an American. We live in times where taking a knee is not opposing the strong voices of the nation but speaking for those in the nation who have no voice.”
She ended the post by citing Proverbs 31:8-9, which in the New International Version of the Bible reads, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
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Marshawn Lynch of the Raiders sat during the anthem, and Russell Okung of the Chargers raised his fist. Sanchez told the Associated Press that Lynch said to her, “You did your thing, girl.”
But of the scores of comments on Sanchez’s page, the great majority criticized her, and several were vulgar.
“Disrespecting the anthem and the flag our military fought and died for is not helping the cause,” one of her gentler detractors wrote. “Find a better way and platform. Taking a knee is getting old. It’s not helpful in fighting for equality. Just a fad now that is going nowhere.”
Others accused Sanchez of kneeling for attention and headlines.
One commenter questioned, “Why stand up and sing the National Anthem in the first place if you’re gonna take a knee? It’s immature and ridiculous. Do me a favor, don’t sing it if you’re gonna take a knee.”
Others commended the singer for being brave.
One supporter wrote, “The reason why our sons and daughters are fighting for this country is that freedom of expression. When we start telling others what to say or do, then we are not better than those countries with a dictator president.”
From another: “Kneeling is a show of respect. We kneel before God. We kneel before royalty. Kneeling is not a sign of disrespect. But the people who will spew their hate at you, won’t hear this message. Their minds are already made up.”
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who grew up in Turlock, started a national conversation about political activism by athletes last season when he decided to sit, and then kneel, during the anthem to bring attention to mistreatment of black Americans by police. Other players have continued the protests this season, prompting an angry response from President Donald Trump, who said players should be fired for not standing during the anthem.
In Baltimore on Sunday, more than 100 people participated in a silent protest before the start of the Ravens game as the national anthem played inside the M&T Bank Stadium. The Baltimore Sun reported that the protesters stood outside the stadium with their fists raised, then knelt down before the Ravens played the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Organizers said the goal was to show solidarity with Kaepernick. The Rev. Jamal Bryant said the reasons behind Kaepernick’s actions have become lost in the political noise.
Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging that he remains unsigned as a result of collusion by owners following his protests during the national anthem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.