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Trump’s Brutal Response To Protest Violence Undermines ‘Law And Order’

Donald Trump, whose 2016 presidential campaign was consciously modeled after Richard Nixon's 1968 run, seems to think he can win reelection by emulating his predecessor's appeal to a "silent majority" disgusted by raucous anti-war protests. Trump is offering voters a choice between his firm hand and the pusillanimity of "liberal Democrats" who let "violent anarchists" run wild in the streets.

Notwithstanding Trump's pose as "your president of law and order," his heavy-handed reaction to the protests triggered by George Floyd's death represents neither. In response to largely peaceful demonstrations against police brutality that have been punctuated by criminal behavior, he has deployed his own brand of lawlessness, including arbitrary arrests and the disproportionate, indiscriminate use of force.

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New Study Indicates Protests Didn’t Promote Virus Spike

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

New research released Monday indicated that the nationwide anti-police brutality demonstrations which erupted in the U.S. after the killing of George Floyd have not led to widespread transmission of the coronavirus, as some public experts feared they would.

The National Bureau of Economic Research used anonymous cell phone data and local CDC information about Covid-19 infection rates since the protests began in late May, to examine the growth in cases in 315 cities.

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High School Football Players Across The U.S. Join Kaepernick, Refuse To Stand For National Anthem

Published with permission from AlterNet.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick declared last month, explaining why he chose not to stand during the national anthem on August 26. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Since Kaepernick spoke these words, his protest has caught fire across the country, with NFL players from Miami to Seattle to Boston showing solidarity by kneeling or raising their fists in the air during the song. Meanwhile, players from other sports have joined in, with soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem, telling American Soccer Now that the gesture was “a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now.”

But getting far less attention are the high school football players across the United States, who, inspired by Kaepernick, are refusing to stand during the national anthem to protest racism and inequality. Many of those leading the protests are black and brown students who have grown up with images of young people who look like them being shot and killed by police.

Coaches and most members of the South Jersey Tigers high school football team, Woodrow Wilson, knelt during the national anthem on Saturday. “I am well aware of the third verse of the national anthem which is not usually sung, and I know that the words of the song were not originally meant to include people like me,” Tigers coach Preston Brown told NBC 10 on Saturday.

The third stanza states, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” As the Intercept’s Jon Schwartz pointed out, Francis Scott Key wrote those words during the war of 1812, in direct reference to U.S. slaves who fought for the British, “who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their ‘owners.’” Schwartz continues: “So when Key penned ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,’ he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.”

The Tigers’ protest is captured in the following video:

On Friday, numerous players for Watkins Mills High in Montgomery County, Maryland also kneeled during the national anthem. “We just wanted to make a statement that America is not what you think it is,” said junior quarterback Markel Grant.

Players from Maury High in Norfolk, Virginia to Auburn High in Rockford, Illinois have taken similar action. While these young people are certainly not the first to use their roles as athletes to protest racism and injustice in the United States, they are part of a fresh wave of resistance amid the ongoing movement for Black Lives Matter led by young people in cities and towns across the U.S. In some cases, individual players are making the decision to stage small protests of one or two, as in the case of Lincoln, Nebraska player Sterling Smith, highlighted in thisnews report.

Rodney Axson, a high school player at Brunswick High School in Ohio, reportedlydecided to kneel during the national anthem after he witnessed his teammates using racial slurs to degrade opposing players. The 16-year-old says he faced severe backlash as a result, including anti-black racial epithets.

Unfortunately, Axson’s case is not an isolated one. According to a local media report, the announcer for a Friday football game at McKenzie High School in Alabama’s Butler County suggested that those who do not stand for the national anthem deserve to be shot. “If you don’t want to stand for the national anthem, you can line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots at you since they’re taking shots for you,” said the announcer, Pastor Allen Joyner of Sweet Home Baptist Church.

Mike Oppong, a player for Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Mass.,says he was initially suspended for a game for refusing to stand during the national anthem, but this punishment was revoked after public outcry. He told reporters, “We are disrespected and mistreated everywhere we go on a daily basis because of our skin color, and I’m sick of it.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

Photo: Screenshot.

Watch: Obama Says Kaepernick Is ‘Exercising His Constitutional Right To Make A Statement’

President Obama said San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was “exercising his right to make a constitutional statement” by refusing to stand up for the national anthem. Kaepernick said last week he would not stand because he didn’t want to show “pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Obama, at a press conference at the G20 Summit Monday, recognized that there was a “long history” of sports figures making statements on political issues, but also referred to meaning the flag and national anthem hold for the nation’s troops. Kaepernick’s statement might be “tough for them to hear,” said Obama.

Despite saying he hadn’t been playing “very close attention” to the controversy, Obama also said he didn’t doubt Kaepernick’s sincerity.

“I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about,” the president said.

Recognizing that political statements might be “messy” and “controversial,” Obama said, “But I’d rather have young people who are engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process, than people who are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all.”

Kaepernick has received both criticism and support for his decision not to stand for the national anthem. His latest outspoken supporter in sports is Megan Rapinoe, a member of the US women’s soccer team, who kneeled during the national anthem before a match Sunday to show her solidarity with Kaepernick.

Rapinoe discussed that she identifies with Kaepernick’s efforts, and underscored the need for white Americans to join the movement:

Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.

Watch Obama’s remarks below:

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst