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Social media reacts to the TakeAKnee protests

SOLIDARITY: Players #TakeAKnee (image credit: AP)

BATTLE LINES are being drawn as more media attention and celebrity support is given to the show of solidarity by NFL players ‘taking a knee’ (not standing) during the National Anthem.

The issue goes far beyond sports and deep into a sense of growing resistance against the President. An unprovoked call by Donald Trump to, "Fire any son of a b***h who dared to protest" by taking the knee during the national anthem sparked protests by artists such as Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder who joined NFL athletes in genuflecting country wide.

In reaction to President Trump’s statement, teams throughout the league locked arms, ‘took a knee’ and in some cases never even left the locker room while the Anthem played. A massive 4 million social posts related to the NFL and the National Anthem – or those using the hashtags #TakeAKnee or #TakeTheKnee appeared across US social media over the weekend. Also trending was the hashtag #BoycottNFL with 633,683 mentions.

Todd Grossman, CEO of social media analysts Talkwalker US commented:

“When I see more than 4 million social posts in a matter of 24 to 48 hours I sit up and take notice, and this is just beginning, the tip of the iceberg, and it’s going to continue to trend. I have not yet seen a statement yet from the NFL, but it will fuel the debate as people wait for President Trump’s reaction.

“Both parties are in a bind. On the one hand, the NFL wants to represent and support their employees and fans, while the President has his own base to impress.”

The player at the centre of the storm is Colin Kaepernick, an NFL player who first refused to stand for the anthem in 2016 citing his refusal to stand in pride for a flag or country that oppresses black people and people of colour. This in turn, was a reaction to the #BlackLivesMatter movement which mobilises people in the US and beyond to protest and take to social media over the issue of police violence against the black population.

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