The NFL’s show of solidarity in response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of protests against racial injustice continued Thursday night as members of the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers linked arms on the sidelines during the national anthem.
The Packers had invited fans to join the team’s protest during Thursday’s game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“Let’s work together to build a society that is more fair and just,” the team said in a statement Tuesday. “Join us this Thursday by locking arms with whoever you’re with, stranger or loved one, wherever you are ― intertwined and included ― in this moment of unification.”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers also urged fans to join the demonstration.
“This is about equality,” Rodgers said. “This is about unity and love and growing together as a society and starting a conversation around something that may be a little bit uncomfortable for people.”
Hundreds of NFL players as well as team owners have demonstrated at games in recent days, either taking a knee during the anthem or linking arms on the sidelines.
The displays followed Trump’s call for football fans to boycott the league if teams don’t fire or suspend players who kneel during the national anthem ― a silent protest started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year over the oppression of black Americans.
Trump’s crusade against the NFL began during a campaign rally in Alabama on Friday, during which he asked the crowd if they would “love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired’?”
Trump, meanwhile, has stood by his comments and insisted his criticism has nothing to do with race — ignoring the basis of Kaepernick’s protests.
Trump escalated his attacks on Thursday, claiming some NFL owners are “afraid of their own players.”
“I have so many friends that are owners and they’re in a box,” Trump told Fox News. “I’ve spoken to a couple of them they said we are in a situation where we have to do something. I think they’re afraid of their players, it’s disgraceful.”