Within weeks of Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem protest gaining traction in the early weeks of the 2016 season, athletes were protesting on the soccer field, on WNBA basketball courts and on youth league football fields across the nation. The protests in 2017 exploded after President Trump vilified players who chose to kneel, and the NFL united to offer up a historic response.
But even leading up to Trump's "S.O.B." remark there were gains being made in terms of who was embracing the protests. Cleveland Browns tight end Seth DeValve became the first white player to kneel, fans also saw the demonstration which consisted of players kneeling en masse. Off of the gridiron, even more interesting developments took shape. The NYPD, led by Frank Serpico, demonstrated for Kaepernick, and more and more stories of U.S. veterans defending the former Niners quarterback began to circulate social media.
On Wednesday morning, (Oct. 11), a Navy vet and an Army vet joined forces to stage their own protest for the equality of African American people in America. George Algozzini and John Correia showed up towards the state capitol in Phoenix, and to the dissatisfaction of some and acknowledgment of others, they took a knee.
“Every day I teach self-defense and firearms to people so I’m like your right-wing conservative gun nut, at the same time as a Christian, I have to stand up for the marginalized. I have to stand up for the oppressed,” John Correia told a local news reporter about his decision; to join the growing number of citizens with whom the messages players are attempting to draw attention to resonate.
Algozzini says that while the demonstrations may be uncomfortable to many, it is on the people to come to terms with the fact that the players are doing absolutely nothing wrong. “It’s never a disrespectful thing in life to take a knee, on the football field when you take a knee it's to listen to your coach, it's to be taught — in the military, when you take a knee it’s to list to your commander,” Algozzini says.