In the past few weeks we have seen the controversy surrounding the taking of a knee during the National Anthem. In taking a stand myself, what I notice first is that the original issue of what the protest was about has been lost. As I understand it, those that began with the protest of taking a knee during the National Anthem were doing so to protest the way that minorities are treated, for example, by law enforcement officials. The display of “solidarity” that we have seen among NFL players in recent weeks seems to be more a reaction to Pres. Trump’s statements, and less about the actual original protest regarding the mistreatment of minorities. It’s a shame that the focus has been lost and moved away from the original intent.
The basic premise behind any protest is to bring an issue to the attention of others, when that issue is unknown or ignored by others. At a certain level this is the very reason that protests are never convenient on others, because they are designed to bring awareness. Yes, protests will disrupt daily activities and ruffle feathers, but this is what awareness does. There is a delicate balance between the right to protest and respecting the rights of others who may not be directly affected. With this in mind, I have a two recommendations about protests in general, and then I have 4 recommendations for follow up related to the current protests that are related to the taking of the knee during the National Anthem.
General Recommendation for Protesters:
- In general, I believe that all protesters should have a recommendation for action. It is not enough to simply complain or demonstrate, but our complaint should be followed up with specific recommendations.
- No protest justifies violence against others. No protest should result in the creation of victims.
Specific Recommendations for Protesters in the Taking of the Knee
- Get us back to the focus on unfair treatment of minorities, specifically from law enforcement professionals.
- Recognize that people that have “celebrity” status (i.e., professional athletes, entertainers, etc.) are in a position to be heard. This implies both a responsibility and an opportunity. Take advantage of the opportunity.
- Create a plan of action that begins at a local community level. For example:
- Ask the mayor of a city to create an advisory committee.
- Involve “celebrity” status people on the committee.
- Involve local residents, police officers, local church leaders, etc. to be on the committee.
- Invite committee members to observe police officer cadet training sessions.
- Invite committee members to ride along with police officers.
- Ask the mayor to establish local town hall meetings and invite committee members to attend.
- Based on these activities, ask committee members to offer specific recommendations.
- At regular intervals, rotate committee members and start the process over again.
- As an aside, I also have a recommendation for the NFL. It’s obvious to me that in the past few weeks we have seen a show of solidarity. If “taking a knee” shows solidarity for protests against the mistreatment of minorities (or perhaps more honestly solidarity against Pres. Trump’s statements), then a “standing with a hand over a heart” could also show solidarity for support, for example, of USA military and traditional patriotism. It may sound corny, but would be a bold statement of solidarity to have all NFL players also choose a week when everyone stands.