Four Washington Redskins players protested the national anthem Sunday, despite their coach saying they would not. DeSean Jackson, Niles Paul, Greg Toler and Rashad Ross all raised their fists during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
After the team beat the New York Giants 29-27, Jackson told the Richmond-Times Dispatch why they joined the movement launched by San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick.
“We feel like there’s a lot going on out there in our country now,” Jackson said. “And we feel like we have an opportunity to be seen and be heard. So we just want to support our people in a time of crisis like this, where you have a lot of tragic situations. [And] a lot of people losing their family members due to these senseless killings by police officers.”
The demonstration came a day after police released dashcam footage of an officer shooting and killing Keith Scott in Charlotte.
Prior to the murder of the North Carolina man, another incident happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
A police officer shot and killed Terence Crutcher as she responded to a report of an abandoned SUV obstructing the road.
The Redskins protest is significant since team coach Jay Gruden insinuated his athletes would not participate.
“We haven’t had that issue here,” Gruden told reporters according to a team press release in August. “We have a ton of respect for what goes on for our country with [military personnel]. For three minutes for us to take our helmet off and stand up and give respect is how we treat it here with the Redskins.”
Still, Ross told The Washington Post Jackson came up with the idea to protest.
“I just did it because I thought it was right,” Ross added. “It’s nothing against the national anthem. It never was against it. It’s about all these killings that’s going on that aren’t right.”
His teammate Toler said all four participants decided to raise their fists minutes before the national anthem began.
“You shouldn’t be able to just kill someone — man, woman, Black, white or yellow. Everyone should definitely be tried in a court of law,” Toler said of the police violence that launched the move. “That’s how it should be. This situation that we have going on right now and around the world, I just pray and hope we can get it resolved.”
Paul declined to comment on the subject.