A pastor from Baltimore organized a silent protest outside the M&T Bank Stadium before the Ravens game began on Oct. 15 as an act of support for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the NFL kneeling protest against racial injustice.
On Sunday, more than 100 people stood with their fists raised and then knelt when the national anthem was played inside the stadium in a protest organized by Rev. Jamal H. Bryant and the Empowerment Temple AME Church. The pastor explained that they wanted to show solidarity with Kaepernick, who sparked controversy last year for his refusal to stand during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, The Baltimore Sun relayed.
"Colin Kaepernick didn't take a knee for the NFL, but about police brutality," said Rev. Bryant. "You have to do it for Trayvon [Martin], Freddie Gray, Eric Gardner. That's what the dialogue is about."
He later on added: "It's important that the argument not stay on the field. This is not just an issue for football players but for the larger community. It's important in this climate that the church is not silent. I want to be the moral voice and spiritual constant for the community."
U.S. President Donald Trump recently said players who do not stand up for the anthem should be fired from the NFL. This prompted the Ravens and other teams to follow Kaepernick's example as they knelt when the anthem was played.
Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo that told all the teams that everyone should stand when the national anthem is played. The Ravens and the Chicago Bears seemed to have complied with the memo on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick filed a grievance lawsuit against the NFL after he left the 49ers in the offseason. He said the 32 league owners had colluded, The Independent reported.
Kaepernick has been unemployed throughout the first six weeks of this season even when there were injured quarterbacks who needed temporary replacing. His legal team said the NFL owners violated their collective bargaining agreement which prohibited teams from colluding in regards to the employment status of a player.