“Taking a knee” during the national anthem has been seen many times since NFL player Colin Kaepernick did it in 2016. Kaepernick, a former 49ers player, did this to protest against police brutality and all racism in general.
His action inspired many others to follow suit, and taking a knee is now an instantly-recognizable symbol of protest against racism.
As the rest of the squad stood erect and waved their pom-poms, one cheerleader took a knee during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” NPR reports.
One of the Niners cheerleaders is taking a knee. pic.twitter.com/DW5SJqh9zj— 2004 never happened (@GatorLenny) November 2, 2018
It may be the first time a cheerleader has taken a knee during an NFL game, though this has been done by college cheerleaders in the past. In 2017, five cheerleaders for Kennesaw State University knelt during the anthem in a game against Georgia.
Of the five who knelt, four of the cheerleaders were not asked to remain on the team at the end of the season.
After leaving the 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick was not picked up by another team. He is currently suing the NFL, which he says has decided to punish him for his activism efforts.
Taking a knee has become a highly politicized and controversial move, as some say it is a sign of disrespect for the flag and for America. Donald Trump has sounded off on the practice of taking a knee in the past, according to the BBC.
In May, the league said that NFL teams would be fined if players kneel during the national anthem. They said that players who didn’t want to stand for the song can wait in the locker room.
The identity of the cheerleader is unknown as of Friday evening. The 49ers did not reply to media requests for a comment on Friday.
Trump has been very vocal in his distaste for players who take a knee during NFL games, and has called on the NFL commissioner to take action against it, Business Insider reports.
However, he hasn’t said anything about the NFL cheerleaders kneeling during the anthem.
Colin Kaepernick was a runner-up for Time’s Person of the Year in 2017. The movement he started has spanned many teams and multiple sports.
It’s not known why the cheerleader decided to take a knee at this particular time, though it’s possible she may have been protesting the racism against Jews that inspired a mass shooting on Saturday, or perhaps a racially-motivated shooting that occurred in Kentucky on October 24, or any number of racist events that happen in the U.S. with alarming frequency.