Speaking before the Giants exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, Kapler says that peaceful protests that show support for racial and social justice are patriotic gestures and should not be viewed as disrespectful to the flag as President Trump insists.
“My response is I don’t see it as disrespect at all,’’ he said. “I see nothing more American than standing up for what you believe in. I see nothing more patriotic than peaceful protests when things are frustrating and upsetting.
“And finally, there’s nobody that should make us stop doing the right thing. It doesn’t matter what leader says that they’re not going to be following a game. What matters the most is that we’re unwavering in trying to do what’s right.”
“What guides our decision is standing up for people who need us to stand up for them.’’
Giants players Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater, Jaylin Davis and Antoan Richardson joined Kapler in kneeling before Monday’s game in Oakland. The protest caught the eye of President Trump, who tweeted Tuesday morning that he will stop watching sports if kneeling during the national anthem doesn’t stop.
Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2020
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was among the first from the sports world to respond to Trump’s tweet. Kapler, who became the first MLB manager to kneel in protest, initially refrained from responding to criticism he’d received from fans and members of the media. But ultimately decided to share his feelings before Tuesday’s game.
Outfielder Jaylin Davis also shared what the protest meant to him.
“The decision I made to take a knee last night has nothing to do with how I feel about the flag or the people that are serving and have served our country (such as both of my grandfathers),’’ Davis said. “I am truly grateful for the sacrifices that each and every one of you have made for our country. On the other hand, I vowed to use my platform to speak up for what I believe in and I plan on doing that.’’
Around a dozen Giants players, coaches and staff members were seen kneeling before Tuesday’s game. Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval were among those joining the group.
About a dozen Giants took a knee during the anthem tonight, including Gabe Kapler, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, Mauricio Dubon and members of the coaching and training staffs: pic.twitter.com/UVzMkXyV3V
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 22, 2020
Joey Votto and members of the Cincinnati Reds also took a knee during the national anthem on Tuesday. And as the league did with the Giants protests, MLB notably acknowledged the gesture.
— MLB (@MLB) July 22, 2020
As support for racial and social justice builds around the league, it’s likely we’ll see even more players taking a knee when the regular season begins later this week.
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