Cambridge Residents Weigh in On National “Take a Knee” Movement

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  • Harvard Libertarians Club Co-President Laura Nicolae weighs in on the national anthem controversy in Brattle Square, Cambridge, Mass., on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017. “You cannot use force or the threat of force to try and restrict other people’s free speech,” she said. // Photo: Conner Reed, BU News Service.
  • Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Athletic Director Tom Arria, in his office, recounts how he’s encouraged his students to engage with the national protests on Monday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass. “Kneeling is great, but it’s just that: It’s kneeling,” he said, adding that he’s pushed his students to envision a next step:, “What do we do now to address it and try to make it better moving forward?” // Photo: Conner Reed, BU News Service.
  • North Cambridge resident Adam Camprano questions the controversy of the kneeling issue from Porter Square on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. “I think that people make too much of a deal about it,” he said, “The players have a choice to do what they want.” // Photo: Lupe Jacobson, BU News Service.

Cambridge Residents Weigh in On National “Take a Knee” Movement
By Lupe Jacobson and Conner Reed
BU News Service

CAMBRIDGE—Colin Kaepernick’s take-a-knee movement has players across the National Football League kneeling during the national anthem, including many players on the New England Patriots. The movement is a protest against police brutality toward black Americans and has been berated by President Donald J. Trump, who has gone so far as to suggest NFL owners fire players who kneel.
    
The protest has spurred national debate, sparking conversations over the place of politics in sports. Just last month, members of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin football team took a knee during their game against Waltham.

Emily Steinberg, a North Cambridge resident, supports the movement. “I think that it’s a good idea to protest in general,” Steinberg said during an interview in Porter Square., “For people to stand up for the black community because they’re being treated unfairly.”

The players protesting are facing backlash from the president along with those who believe kneeling is disrespectful to veterans and those who serve. The heart of the matter fuels conversation or attention nonetheless, and the atmosphere in Cambridge, leans blue.

Cambridge resident Adam Camprano doesn’t see the reason for the opposition.
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“I think that people make too much of a deal about it, the players have the choice to do what they want,” he said on his way to work.

Laura Nicolae, co-president of Harvard’s Libertarian club, believes critics have the freedom to express themselves as well.

“I think that you cannot use force or the threat of force to try to restrict other people’s speech,” she said during an interview in Brattle Square, “but you can express peaceful criticism.”

Whether players should be allowed to kneel is not a source of contention among Cambridge residents contacted for this brief survey, but some wonder about the efficacy rather how successful of the actionthe protests are is the more relevant question.

Kaepernick, the first to take a knee at a national football game, starting the movement in 2016 while quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, has been a free agent ever since.

The quarterback has not had a single offer from any team in the NFL, and Sam Staxx, a Cambridge commuter, sees this as the greatest implication of the movement going forward.

“He was drafted high in the draft. It’s not like he was some scrub,” says Staxx said.of Kaepernick, “If they don’t let him back in, it just shows that the ownership has to change.”

The protest has become a stand against the oppression of people of color in America, and using the football field as a platform Kaepernick calls attention to the huge majority of white male ownership within all major sports leagues.

The teams themselves are diverse, but according to a study by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, there’s a 100 percent disparity between athletes of color and owners of color in the league.

Staxx doesn’t see the issue being resolved through Kaepernick’s protest, saying it is the “people in positions of power,” who are capable of changing the system, even if he noted but they have little incentive to do so.

The movement has caught on with fervor, with high schoolers across the country following the NFL players and taking a knee during the anthem.

Basketball, volleyball and football players at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin school have players taking a knee during the anthem at their own games, Tom Arria the Athletic Director said.

Arria says he supports the students who have taken a knee, saying the players, “have decided they feel it’s important enough to call attention on a local level to what they see as being in-just.”

Arria hopes they go further, a concern shared by many.

He says, “Kkneeling is great, but it’s just that: it is kneeling,” he noted.. “It’s calling attention to the issue but what do we do now to address it and try to make it better moving forward?”