In an interview with Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy published on Friday, President Donald Trump said that those protesting inequality should “run for office” instead of kneeling during the national anthem, The Hill reported.
Kneeling during the anthem was first popularized by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick adopted the practice in 2016 as a form of protesting against police brutality and racial injustice.
Following the death of George Floyd earlier this year, thousands of Americans protested in a similar way.
Asked what he considers an appropriate way to protest, Trump said the following.
“Well, I mean, you could always run for office, right? You could become successful and run for a lower office.”
“There are ways, you get groups together, and it can be very friendly ways of doing it, very successful,” Trump argued.
“You have to go out… and speaking your mind is good, but you have to do it fairly,” he said.
Trump pointed to the happenings in Portland, Oregon, noting that there could be “negative rebounds” if similar demonstrations continue.
As The Hill pointed out, protests against police brutality have been going on in Portland for weeks. The city garnered widespread attention after the Trump administration deployed federal agents. Allegedly sent to defend federal property, the agents were seen using unmarked cars to arrest protesters.
The decision to crack down on the demonstrations was met with intense backlash, with Democratic politicians and local lawmakers slamming the commander-in-chief.
Trump has previously expressed opposition to protesting at sporting events, suggesting that it is unpatriotic and offensive.
“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!” he wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week.
Football players will no longer face any repercussions for taking a knee. In response to George Floyd protests, the NFL changed its official policy on the issue. As Commissioner Roger Goodell explained in a statement, all forms of peaceful protests will be allowed.
The ongoing demonstrations against police brutality appear to have shifted public opinion. In a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released in June, 52 percent of respondents said that NFL players should be allowed to take a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
A strong majority of Democrats, 20 percent of Republicans and 20 percent of Trump voters said that they support the players’ right to express their views during The Star-Spangled Banner.