Bruce Maxwell: First MLB Player To Kneel During National Anthem Is Son Of U.S. Army Veteran

Bruce Maxwell is the first MLB player to kneel during the national anthem in protest, and the rookie catcher has something of a unique background to make the protest.

On Saturday, the Oakland Athletics player took a knee during the national anthem, becoming the first player in his sport to join the ever-expanding protest sparked last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The players are holding the demonstration in protest of police brutality against minorities, but the actions have drawn quite a bit of controversy as detractors say it is disrespectful to U.S. military veterans and their sacrifices.

That is something Bruce Maxwell would know very well. The son of a U.S. Army veteran, Maxwell, was born on a military base in Germany.

Maxwell said he was inspired to join the national anthem protest as a way to bridge the expanding racial divide in the United States. Maxwell, an African-American, implied that Donald Trump is responsible for this racial tension.

“This goes beyond the black and Hispanic communities because right now we have a racial divide that’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country saying it’s basically OK to treat people differently,” he said on Saturday (via the Blaze). “I’m kneeling for a cause but I’m in no way disrespecting my country or my flag.”

Donald Trump is under fire for his remarks against the protests from NFL players. At a rally in Alabama on Friday, Trump called any protest player a “son of a b****” and called on NFL owners to fire players who took a knee during the national anthem.

While critics say the protesting NFL players are disrespecting the U.S. military, that is a more difficult argument to make against the first MLB player to join the demonstrations. In the past, Bruce Maxwell has spoke about his reverence for the U.S. military and his own family’s sacrifices. In 2015, when he was a member of the Midland RockHounds, Maxwell told mrt.com about how important it was for him to get to play on the Fourth of July.

“It means a little bit more to me,” Maxwell said. “I take it a little more personal. It’s closer to my heart than most holidays and so it’s just about a respect of guys that give their lives every day and their families that feel the repercussions of what they do over there, even in the States. It’s a big thing for me and it’s an honor to play on this day.”

Bruce Maxwell has the support of his team. Shortly after the rookie catcher took a knee during the national anthem, the Oakland Athletics posted a statement noting that they were behind his freedom to express his opinion.

Bruce Maxwell will not be the only professional athlete to join the national anthem protests this weekend. After Donald Trump’s sharp criticism of NFL players, a number of new athletes said they planned to take a knee during the national anthem, including the first white players. The entire offensive line of the Oakland Raiders said they planned to join running back Marshawn Lynch in protesting.

[Featured Image by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]