An outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump is planning a counter-protest at an upcoming Detroit Lions game against NFL players protesting police brutality.
Brian Pannebecker, an auto worker and anti-union activist from Harrison Township, is a go-to source for reporters seeking comment from Trump backers in Michigan, and he helped organize a controversial campaign rally where auto companies paid workers to attend.
Now that Trump has launched a sustained attack on mostly black NFL players for kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the 57-year-old Pannebecker is organizing an Oct. 8 protest at Ford Field, reported the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m going to organize a protest at Ford Field at the Lions next home game to encourage a fan boycott in response to the millionaire players and billionaire owners who show disrespect towards patriotic fans and our National Anthem and flag,” said Pannebecker, who is representing Michigan Freedom to Work. “It will include veterans and conservative patriots and we hope to be stationed at the 4 main entrances.”
Pannebecker has previously been outed two years ago by Politico as a fan of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
The website reported that Pannebecker wrote a glowing 2001 review of Duke’s memoir, My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding, as an “honest, fair and well documented book on the important and sensitive issue of race.”
“(Readers) will be able to discuss the issue of race without the fear of being labeled a racist because you will have the facts and the truth on your side,” he wrote.
Pannebecker, who is a great admirer of black conservatives Ben Carson and Allen West, has unabashedly described former President Barack Obama as a “race hustler” who was “trying to benefit from racial tension and animosity.”
He also frequently complains on social media and to reporters about black athletes and politicians, including a black GOP outreach director he recently accused of “just hanging out with the fellas” by trying to appeal to black voters on Facebook.
Pannebecker explained his anger at NFL protesters on Facebook as he urged team owners to force players to participate in the National Anthem or face punishment.
“If this situation escalates any further, with more over-paid ungrateful multi-millionaires disrespecting the U.S. Flag and our national anthem, which was started to bring Americans together and unite us, not to be used to divide us, I will be organizing a protest of our own to try to encourage fans to stay away from NFL stadiums until the franchise owners ‘grow a pair’ and establish rules on every team to show respect for our flag, the anthem, and those who have fought and died defending our great country!” Pannebecker posted.
In that post, he tagged Dave Agema, who was pressured to quit the RNC after sharing a post from a white nationalist website that described black people as inclined toward criminality and unable to express themselves without profanity.
Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford locked arms Sunday with coach Jim Caldwell in a show of support against Trump’s attacks on Colin Kaepernick and other black athletes protesting police violence.
Pannebecker admitted to writing the positive comments about Duke’s memoir — which was described by the Anti-Defamation League as a “minor league Mein Kampf” — but complained he was the victim of a “political smear” when it was reported.
“I made a comment online 15 years ago that said people should read books and judge for themselves,” he told the Huffington Post. “Why don’t you stop digging up dirt, and stop trying to conform everybody to your political correctness? Stop trying to embarrass people, and cause guilt by association.”
Duke endorsed Trump during last year’s presidential election, and the former KKK leader has thanked the president for his moral equivocation after a neo-Nazi killed a counter-protester during a Charlottesville white supremacist rally.