More than two years after the then quarterback from San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick decided the first time as a kind of silent protest during the national anthem. An unidentified NFL cheerleader followed suit. A 49ers cheerleader was seen kneeling during the national anthem on Thursday, when the 49ers played the Oakland Raiders' local rivals. While Kaepernick's controversial action spurred dozens of players throughout the league to sit with him, kneel or raise his fist during the national anthem to protest against police brutality and racial injustice, it is believed that Thursday's first incident Time is an NFL cheerleader has joined the protest.
A photo taken and shared by NBC News reporter Damian Trujillo a 49ers cheerleader kneels on one knee with her hands and pomos right on her hips as the flag was shown on the field during the national anthem just before the start at Levi's Stadium. The rest of the San Francisco 49ers cheerleader is in formation – with one hand on his hip and one outstretched arm – around the kneeling NFL cheerleader. Bustle has addressed both the 49ers and the NFL to comment on them.
While the cheerleader in question has not yet come to talk about her reasons for kneeling, the gesture is reminiscent of Kaepernick's protest.
The first time Kaepernick protested during the national anthem came during preseason 2016. According to SB Nation, Kaepernick's controversial protest was not immediately noticed. He reportedly sat at least two preparatory games, albeit without a uniform, before his protest made headlines. At the time, he told NFL.com that he hoped to use his platform as a player to raise awareness about issues such as police brutality and racial injustice.
"I'm not going to get up to be proud of a flag for a country that suppresses blacks and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL.com. "For me it's bigger than football and it would be selfish to look the other way – there are dead bodies in the street and people get paid holidays and get away with murder."
At the time, both the NFL and the 49ers said that Kaepernick had a right not to stand for the national anthem, NFL.com reported. However, when dozens of other players began to sit, kneel, or raise their fists to either join or support Kaepernick's protest against the national anthem, criticism of the quarterback rose. And when the 2017 NFL draft was over, no team had signed Kaepernick, meaning he would not play in the NFL again this year if it ever should be again.
The incident on Thursday seems to have been the first time an NFL cheerleader knelt down during the national anthem, but this is not the first time that cheerleaders have dived into the protest of the national anthem. According to CNN, Howard University's entire jubilation group knelt for the anthem when the university's football team played at the RFK Stadium in September 2016 in the now discontinued AT & T Nation's Football Classic.
It remains unclear whether other cheerleaders will follow suit.