GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The controversy surrounding the NFL protests is dividing the country, and that division has reached the Upstate.
However, many feel the message behind the protest is misunderstood and is getting lost.
7News asked a few people how they felt about the kneeling. One lady said “It’s a shame.” 7News also asked people if they knew why football players started protesting. Many did not. One man said, “Yeah. They started protesting because Kaepernick, he took a knee for the black injustice of the world going on in America right now, and who’s to say he’s wrong.”
However, there are many people in the Upstate who think he is wrong.
“While there are examples of racism in 2017, there’s also a prevailing idea among some conservatives that a lot of the brutality that goes on has some sort of justification,” said Nate Leupp, the chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party.
He says the shootings need to be looked at on a case by case basis.
It is the police shootings of unarmed black men across the country that caused Colin Kaepernick to take a knee during the national anthem a year ago.
“I fought for that, and I stand for that, so these young men who kneel, they have the right to do it,” said Rev. J.M. Flemming, a Vietnam veteran and current president of Greenville’s NAACP chapter.
He says some people are choosing only to focus on the flag and how people are protesting.
“It’s bigger than him just kneeling down,” Flemming said. “He kneeled down because there’s a social unrest in our community.”
But, some people admitted they did not know the reasoning behind it.
“I honestly could not recall the real reason behind kneeling, but I don’t see anything in current American culture that I would say would be a good enough reason to disrespect our flag our national anthem,” Leupp said.
For Flemming and many others, issues like racism and other social injustices are a good enough reason.
“We’re losing something in this,” Flemming said. “It’s not the song that’s the issue. There’s another problem that’s festering in this country that we don’t have the nerve to address.”
However, Leupp says he thinks the protesters should find a different way of getting their point across.
“You’ve lost the battle when you don’t have average Americans listening to your grievances,” Leupp said. “You have them upset at the way you’re presenting your grievances.”
Rev. Flemming says people were upset during the Civil Rights era, too. And, there’s only one way to deal with the issues.
“Until we’re willing to come down and talk about, it’ll never get better,” Flemming said.
More NFL players joined the protests this weekend following a speech from President Trump in Alabama where he called players expletives.
Both the Greenville NAACP and GOP say they would be open to having a conversation with people of differing views.
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