U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the National Football League on Wednesday for not forcing players to stand for the national anthem, firing back after league officials meeting in New York chose instead to effectively back players’ right to political activism.
“Total disrespect for our great country!” tweeted Trump, who has repeatedly denounced players in the country’s most popular sports league as unpatriotic for kneeling during the anthem in a demonstration against racism.
After the first day of the NFL’s two-day autumn meeting of team owners, players and their union’s leaders in Manhattan, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters they talked about “the issues that our players have been trying to bring attention to. About issues in our communities to make our communities better.”
The small but growing number of players kneeling during the national anthem are protesting the killing by police of unarmed black men and boys across the United States, as well as racial disparities in the criminal justice system. More than half of all NFL players are black.
Trump wants the league to suspend players if they kneel during pregame renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” His vice president, Mike Pence, walked out of a stadium in Indianapolis this month as players knelt, which Trump said he had instructed Pence to do.
On Tuesday, Goodell appeared less interested in stifling the protests, despite the president’s views, and rather hailed the character of the players, saying that he wanted to help their political activism.
The commissioner said the league will meet again with players, probably in the next two weeks, and spend more time talking to reporters when the gathering concludes on Wednesday.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington and Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Rigby)
WATCH: John Oliver exposes Trump’s lies about vote-by-mail — and the Fox News ‘cult’ claiming the election is already ‘rigged’
"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's main story Sunday refuted President Donald Trump's latest crusade against vote-by-mail. Trump announced on Twitter that the more people who vote in an election, the more Republicans tend to lose. So, he wants fewer people to have access to the ballot in November, even if people are too scared to go out during the coronavirus crisis.
Oliver called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO), who outright told people not to vote if they were too afraid to vote in the local elections next week.
"Well, hold on there," Oliver interjected. "Voting is a right. It has to be easy to understand and accessible to anyone."
John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police
John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.
It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."
While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."
Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent
The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.
The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.
Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.