A few moments ago, I made a private protest public "I've decided to make my personal protest more pronounced and public at this time for a variety of reasons. In good conscience I couldn't continue to protest quietly without using it to highlight the plight of so many. As a person who loves the country of his birth, believes in it and is privileged to have reached a modicum of success in his chosen field, I believe it is my duty to do all I can to raise the voice of those who feel voiceless and who struggle every day.
Joining a growing number of public figures protesting the systemic racism and police brutality in the country, a New York City councilman refused to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance during a meeting on Wednesday.
Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) made headlines after posting an Instagram photo of him sitting with his head bowed while other council members stand around him.
Explaining his stance, the politician said he has engaged in a “personal protest” with the pledge and at times “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Particularly in my position as a City Council member representing some of those communities, I think I have to do all that I can and a non-violent protest is a great way to do that,” Williams said in a statement. “I’m no less patriotic, so I reject all of those notions that somehow the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, are to the sole definition of patriotism.”
The protest was a show of support for NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who famously refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police violence against African-Americans — an action that inspired several athletes to follow in his footsteps.
“I am choosing to recommit to this personal protest in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, who has bravely decided to kneel down during the national anthem in tribute to oppressed black Americans. I only hope that local professional athletes will be inspired by this show of strength and join Colin in his protest,” the council member added.
“This type of non-violent protest is not disrespectful, as some have suggested. [Kaepernick] deserves support, not criticism for his actions,” Williams continued. “What does it say about our country when there is a national outrage over an athlete sitting out the national anthem, but the same outrage isn’t expressed when a young black man is killed for no reason.”
He also cited the pay raise for NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo — who wasn’t indicted for putting an African-American man, Eric Garner, in chokehold and killing him — to further prove his point.
“This man who murdered Eric Garner was not only not prosecuted or punished for his crime, he was rewarded with increased pay,” Williams said. “Where is the justice in that? Especially as we struggle with issues of transparency when it comes to police records, including Pantaleo’s, and are still fighting to have a vote on the widely supported Right to Know Act.”
As the New York Daily News reports, Pantaleo earned $119,996 in 2016, which was $20,000 more than what he made in 2014 before being placed on modified duty following Garner’s death. In 2015, Pantaleo earned a total of $105,061.
Erica Garner, the eldest daughter of Eric Garner, praised Williams for his valor.
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