This summer, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest injustice and discrimination. Since then, other athletes have followed suit.
And on Monday night, on an NBA court, another person joined in the protests Kaepernick inspired. This time, it wasn’t someone listening to the anthem — it was the woman singing it.
Leah Tysse knelt down on one knee on the very last line of the anthem, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Specifically, she dropped down on the word “free.”
You can see the moment in video coverage from a local CBS station.
The gesture upset some people. Tysse, a breast cancer survivor, was singing the anthem on a night dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer. A fellow cancer survivor told CBS Tysse’s kneeling “took something away” from the community of survivors.
Others expressed support for Tysse’s action.
On her Facebook page, Tysse explained why she chose to kneel, saying it “felt like the most patriotic thing I could do.”
“I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans,” she said. She continued:
“I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability. …
“Whether or not you can see if from your vantage point, there is a deep system of institutionalized racism in America, from everyday discrimination to disproportionate incarceration of people of color to people losing their lives at the hands of the police simply for being black. This is not who we claim to be as a nation. It is wrong and I won’t stand for it. #Solidarity.”
The Sacramento Bee notes that Kings players have previously participated in anthem protests, as far as they are allowed.
“NBA rules require players, coaches and trainers to stand during the national anthem,” the Sacramento Bee writes. “But the Kings staged their own form of protest by locking arms with players on the Los Angeles Lakers before a game at Honda Center earlier this month.”
The Kings organization said it respected Tysse’s “right to exercise her freedom of speech,” the Bee reports.
The Kings were hosting Israel’s Maccabi Haifa for an exhibition game. Sacramento won, 135-96.