A majority of Americans -- now 52 percent -- support NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality targeting black Americans, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Thursday showed.
Support for the protests has increased since 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt at a game. At that time, just 28 percent considered them "appropriate," according to Yahoo Sports/YouGov polls.
In the latest poll, 77 percent of Democrats support the kneeling protests, while only 20 percent Republicans do. Younger Americans are more likely to support the action than older Americans.
The overall support by the American public stands in sharp contrast with the viewpoints of Donald Trump and other high-profile Republicans, who have harshly criticized the protests for years.
In 2017, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers when some players kneeled during the anthem.
"While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem," Pence said at the time.
The same year, Trump attacked the protests.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said.
In the wake of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, the Trump administration sent conflicting messages.
Pence, despite previous attacks on NFL players' peaceful protests, claimed on May 29 that the administration "will always stand for the right of Americans to peacefully protest and let their voices be heard."
Three days later, the Trump administration ordered federal law enforcement officers to shoot tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters across the street from the White House to clear the way so Trump could pose for a photo-op in front of a church.
A few days after the protesters were tear-gassed, Trump reiterated his disdain for players who knelt in protest.
"We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!" Trump tweeted on June 5.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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