Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed took her seat as the rest of the chamber stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance before a new session on Wednesday morning, a new twist to silent protests during the national anthem that began with Colin Kaepernick two weeks ago.
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Nasheed, a Democrat from the St. Louis area, told the Associated Press that her decision was meant as a show of solidarity with the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Kaepernick has sparked a growing movement by athletes across the country who have knelt or sat during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
“I decided to not stand for the pledge of allegiance today to stand in solidarity with the cause of injustice that Colin Kaepernick has shined a bright light upon,” said Nasheed in a statement on Wednesday. “I am not anti-America, and in fact, it is because I love this country that I take this stand.”
In video posted by local CBS affiliate KFVS, other lawmakers didn’t seem to acknowledge Nasheed’s protest as it was happening, but several Republican lawmakers were quick to offer their condemnations later in the day.
Gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens issued a release, saying “any politician who gets elected by the American people to serve them and gets paid by them to do their work should stand up and give our flag, our country, and our people the respect they deserve.”
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who presided over the session, called the protest “an occasion for great sorrow,” adding that he “[worried] about the example she is setting, particularly for our young people.”
Last Friday, the first day many high schools held football games since Kaepernick’s protest began, several students took knees during the national anthem, in some cases risking suspension or other punishment from their school administrators.