Highlighting police brutality, protesters in Charlotte, N.C., will perform a “kneel-in” ahead of Thursday night’s NFL showdown between the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
A gathering of nearly 100 pastors and community leaders will stage the protest outside Bank of America Stadium, the home facility and headquarters of the Panthers.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the intent of the protest is to highlight ongoing police brutality and “social and racial injustice.”
Bishop Kevin Long of Temple Church International-Charlotte reportedly said the cause is the same one for which former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was raising awareness when he protested during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season.
“These things have yet to be properly addressed in our judicial system and the like,” Long told the publication.
Kaepernick said he began kneeling because he had no desire to “show pride in a flag” which represented a faulty country: the United States of America. He initially stated that he knelt in response to the “systemic oppression against people of color [and] police brutality.”
Later, during an exclusive interview with NFL.com, he said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Kaepernick believes that racism exists within the justice and legal system of the United States, which leads to the murder of innocent black Americans at the hands of those who represent the government.
“There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” Kaepernick said last year.
Since Kaepernick’s initial display, which brought a lot of attention to his cause, other NFL players — and even entire NFL teams — have decided to “take a knee” in protest of police brutality and racial inequality.
In Charlotte, members of the new Pastors and Community Leaders Coalition issued a statement Wednesday, which said the kneel-in aims to shed light on “police brutality, lack of accountability for officers who’ve killed innocent and/or unarmed citizens, and the high rates of unemployment for minorities.”
The statement continued:
“This is a call for accountability. Kneeling is merely the method we have chosen, it is not the message in its entirety. The message is that there is a deep and very wide gulf between the Black and Brown communities and others in this country, and we are not compelled to stand that.”
According to the Observer, the coalition reported other kneel-in protests are being scheduled in additional cities in coming days.
The Charlotte protest will be held at 7:30 p.m. local time, according to Long.
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