Four city council members from Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently decided to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance to show solidarity with the NFL players doing the same during the national anthem.
Ann Arbor city council members Chip Ward, Chuck Warpehoski, Sumi Kailasapathy, and Jason Frenzel participated in the controversial demonstration during a meeting Monday, The Ann Arbor News reported.
In a statement on his website, Warpehoski said he chose to take a knee during the patriotic ceremony to show “concern” and “respect”:
“I can’t speak to what is in each person’s heart, but for me to ‘take a knee’ is an act of attention, of concern, and of respect. And it is in that spirit that I take a knee at tonight’s city council meeting: out of respect for the aspiration that we be a nation ‘with liberty and justice for all,’ with full attention that we fall short of that ideal in many ways, and with humble dedication to continue to work that the promise of the pledge may be fulfilled.”
Kailasapathy told The Ann Arbor News that she chose to take a knee as part of her desire to uphold the United States’ democratic values.
“For me,” she said, “taking a knee is also showing solidarity with the group of people who have been doing this at the national level.”
The Monday evening demonstration was a reflection of the protest started in 2016 by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began taking a knee to raise awareness about perceived injustices against black Americans.
The number of NFL players participating in the protest skyrocketed after President Donald Trump criticized it in late September, suggesting those who participate in the demonstration should be fired.
The league’s TV ratings have continued to fall ever since the protest spread across the organization.