Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game after players took part in an act of demonstration during the national anthem, leading critics to call the move an orchestrated stunt in order to galvanize anti-black supporters of Donald Trump.
Pence was in the stands for a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, but walked out after some players took a knee during the national anthem. Pence issued a public statement almost immediately afterward, saying he did not want to “dignify” the game and the act of protest.
Mike Pence framed the protest as one meant to disrespect U.S. troops.
“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence tweeted (via CNN).
Though Mike Pence — the former governor of Indiana — had posted pictures of himself and his wife at Lucas Oil Stadium wearing Colts gear, some critics believed his decision to leave the game after the national anthem protest was calculated.
Critics have also said that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are trying to re-frame the protests as an act against the troops and the flag when it really started as an act of protest against police brutality against minorities. Others have said it is a direct attempt to rile up anti-black supporters of Donald Trump and take attention away from the real cause of the protest.
The national anthem protests started last year with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and grew this year to a handful of other players. But after Donald Trump publicly criticized players for taking a knee, calling on NFL owners to fire those players, the demonstrations expanded to hundreds of players.
The San Francisco 49ers have been one of the most consistent teams in the protest, with players taking a knee going back to last year in Kaepernick’s original protest, so critics noted that Mike Pence would have known that there would be protests during the national anthem even before going to the game.
While Mike Pence may have sparked criticism for his decision to leave the NFL game after the national anthem protest, others have commended the vice president for his own act of protest.
[Featured Image by Michael Conroy/AP Images]