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Oakland A’s Catcher Bruce Maxwell Becomes First MLB Player To Kneel During National Anthem

National anthem protests have now spread to major league baseball.

Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell, who is black, knelt for the Star Spangled Banner during Saturday night’s game against the Texas Astros. As the song began, Maxwell dropped to one knee in the player lineup, but removed his hat and placed his hand across his heart.

Teammate Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell, and placed a hand on his shoulder during the protest. The pair embraced after the anthem had finished.

Maxwell had warned the team ahead of his protest, and both players and management were supportive, ESPN reports. Before the game, the A’s released a statement on Twitter saying the team would “respect and support” players’ Constitutional right to free expression.

After the game, Maxwell addressed his protest, telling reporters that, while his protest was inspired by Colin Kaepernick and players in the NFL who knelt during the national anthem in protest of racial issues plaguing the country, Maxwell tailored his protest differently — to send a message while still expressing respect for the flag.

“The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military, it’s not to disrespect our Constitution, it’s not to disrespect this country. … My hand over my heart symbolizes the fact that I am and I’ll forever be an American citizen, and I’m more than grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what is getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don’t have a voice,” Maxwell said.

“And this goes beyond the black community, and this goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having an indifference and a racial divide in all types of people. It’s being practiced from the highest power that we have in this country, and it’s basically saying that it’s OK to treat people differently,” he added. “My kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize that I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

But Maxwell, apparently, decided to kneel after President Donald Trump issued a tweet, excoriating NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem. Maxwell has been a vocal critic of the president on Twitter, and yesterday was no exception:

So, it wasn’t as though Maxwell just randomly decided to engage in protest; it’s clearly part of a plan to expand “resistance” to Trump’s agenda beyond just the NFL.

While players certainly have a right to express themselves, even a number of progressive operatives warned Saturday that athletes who kneel during the national anthem risk creating a deeper divide, placing themselves on one side, and lumping the president and the flag in together on the other. While viewers might agree that Donald Trump has his faults — and certainly that racial tensions are now at a high — they may not choose the athletes when forced to pick a side.

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