FREEDMEN’S TOWN, Texas (AP) — When Afghanistan War veteran Joseph Smith saw NFL players take a knee or raise a fist during the playing of the national anthem last month, he wasn’t offended — he was proud. Where some saw it as disrespectful, he saw it as patriotic.
“It’s not an insult against the flag. It’s a stand up of your beliefs,” said Smith, 32, a black community activist in Houston’s historic Freedmen’s Town, a neighborhood settled by emancipated slaves after the Civil War.
A silent protest against police brutality, started last year by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has evolved into a statement about patriotism and the nation’s symbols, drawing some heated responses — including from President Donald Trump, who referred to an NFL player making a gesture during “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a “son of a bitch” who should be fired.
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