KANKAKEE, IL—Controversial protests staged by National Football League players during preseason and opening day games have apparently spread well beyond the NFL.
In Kankakee, Illinois, just moments after the Kroger Grocery Store opened for the day, grocery clerk Willie Frissel refused to check out the first customer of the day, instead taking a knee for the better part of three minutes. He later said that he did so out of solidarity with NFL players protesting “oppression in this country.” The customer, who was attempting to purchase several frozen entrees and some orange juice, instead left the store empty-handed and somewhat confused. A spokesperson for Kroger said they were aware of the incident but as of yet had not decided whether or not to discipline the employee.
Similar impromptu protests took place across the over the country this past weekend, including at convenience stores, fast food drive-ups, and retail outlets. In one of the more bizarre instances, an Eden Glen mortuary hearse arrived 20 minutes late to a funeral.
In New York City, during the musical overture prior to the opening curtain of Broadway hit “Hamilton,” the entire horn section refused to play a single note. And perhaps more noticeably, during the subsequent opening scene, Abidemi Abimbola, understudy to the Aaron Burr role, sat down the entire time, refusing to dance or sing. A whirling extra nearly stumbled over him at one point.
On Sunday, numerous NFL players showed their support of San Francisco second-string quarterback Colin Kaepernick by kneeing, sitting, raising fists, or generally fidgeting, with many of the players vying for on-air time with sportscasters after the games. At one point, as many as a dozen players lined up and waited to be interviewed by CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.
In Seattle, Miami Dolphins players Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills all knelt. However, when Stills began to stand back up after the national anthem he strained a hamstring and will actually have sit out the next few games entirely.
Chief’s Marcus Peters, Patriots’ Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty, and Titan’s Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard and Jason McCourty all raised their fists in solidarity. And Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, San Francisco safety Eric Reid, and Bronco’s linebacker Brandon Marshall have all assumed various postures of discontent.
On some sidelines, protesting players could not agree on a form of protest, so some sat, while others kneeled, and still others raised fists, either their right or left hand, with or without gloves. On the 49’ers bench, one cornerback even laid down and appeared to be sleeping.
The NFL had sought to blunt the protests by staging elaborate pre-game commemorations of September 11, but many players refused to stand upright for 90 seconds even though 12 black firefighters were among the fallen in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
President Obama quickly praised the well-paid athletes for “their courage,” condemned those fans hoping for display of patriotism, and apologized to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un for no apparent reason.
After a brief visit to New York’s 9-11 memorial on Sunday, Democratic Presidential nominee Hilary Clinton was also seen taking a knee.
But a Clinton campaign staffer later attributed the controversial move to her "seasonal allergies.
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