WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says the NFL should suspend Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch sat during most of the U.S. anthem and stood for the Mexican anthem before Sunday’s game against the Patriots at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.
Lynch hasn’t stood for the national anthem since returning from retirement this season.
Trump tweeted early Monday: “Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.”
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf has come to Lynch’s defense.
Schaaf later spoke to reporters at greater length about her support for Lynch in his stand.
“I think it’s the President who needs to worry about his approval ratings and his ratings on TV. Marshawn Lynch was practicing what we in America hold dear, that is the right to free speech and to criticize your government,” said Schaaf. That is American and definitely Marshawn is showing himself to be a true Oaklander, because we are champions for social justice.”
The mayor continued: “I’m not going to stand by while anybody — not even the President — picks on a great Oaklander like Marshawn Lynch and continues to bully people that have been attacked over history. I’m not going to stand for that. That’s not who Oakland is. In Oakland, we know that the first amendment gives us the right to protest even our government, even our president, and I am with Marshawn Lynch on this.”
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement last season when he refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
Monday in front of Lynch’s apparel store Oakland, residents were standing up for the Raiders running back’s right to sit down during the anthem.
“Marshawn Lynch is standing for his rights,” said Ebony Carter:.
“That’s why I went to war. That’s why I joined the military; so you could have the right to say what you wanted,” said veteran Michael Jones. “I think he stood for the Mexican flag to respect people of Mexico. I’m a veteran and I know Marshawn is not doing it to disrespect veterans. He’s doing it to bring attention to issues that plague our community.”
On Monday, Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio refused to comment on any type of suspension.
“My thought is that everyone should pay respect to the flag and stand at attention and that’s how I feel about it,” said Del Rio. “But it is America and everyone can make their choice, and I’ve made that clear too.”
While Del Rio held back, his wife did not. Linda Del Rio tweeted that she regretted voting for Trump.
She was targeted by criticism from Trump supporters after the tweet and appears to have deleted her account from the social media site.
The President and the NFL have butted heads over athletes’ decisions to kneel during the national anthem at games, with Trump calling on the league to fire players who protest during the anthem earlier this year.
So far, the NFL has said it will not force players to stand for the anthem, but President Trump continues to make the controversial protest one of his signature issues on Twitter.
The president tweeted more than three dozen times about the anthem protests.
“He should do his job as a president and not get involved in sports and things like that, because he should stay neutral,” said Oakland resident Abby Mariani.
It marked the second day Trump has taken to social media to criticize African-American athletes.
Trump helped negotiate the release of three UCLA basketball players, including LiAngelo Ball, accused of shoplifting in China. On Sunday, the President tweeted that he should have left the basketball players in jail, suggesting that Ball’s father was “unaccepting” of Trump’s efforts to negotiate the players out of China.
“Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar,” Trump said later on Sunday. “Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!”
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