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President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning took a shot at NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem when he talked up a gathering to occur at the White House later in the day in place of the Philadelphia Eagles visit.
Trump announced Monday that he canceled the Super Bowl-winning team’s visit after he caught wind that a small number of players — reportedly none of the African-American players — intended to attend the event.
On Tuesday, the president took a dig at all players who kneel during the National Anthem to protest the treatment of African Americans, specifically at the hands of police, when he boasted about the “Celebration for America,” which would happen instead of celebrating the team.
“We will proudly be playing the national anthem and other wonderful music celebrating our country today at 3 p.m., with the White House, with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus. Honoring America! NFL, no escaping to Locker Rooms!” Trump tweeted.
According to multiple reporters who went to the “Celebration For America,” Trump was booed by a portion of those in attendance.
“POTUS appears after the national anthem to a scattering of boos and some cheers on the Southlawn for a civics lesson on why we stand for the anthem,” wrote reporter Brian J. Karem.
“If you include those who arrived at the last minute (staff, presumably) there were perhaps 1,000 on the South Lawn. I’m guessing no more than 5 or 10 percent booed, but they were quite audible because there wasn’t a huge cheer for Trump,” wrote reporter Dana Milbank.
Someone at the event yelled at Trump: “Stop hiding hiding behind the armed services and the national anthem.”
— Tom Leyden (@TomLeyden) June 5, 2018
At The White House. One guy in the audience took a knee during the national anthem at President Trumps celebration of America no Eagles event. Left right after – didn’t wanna talk pic.twitter.com/NLRGp26gln
— Jesper Zølck (@zolckTv2) June 5, 2018
— Tim Furlong (@tfurlong) June 5, 2018
Previously calling any player who kneels a “son of a bitch,” Trump has made it his purpose to blast any player, team and owner who is connected to protests.
Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith (who played on the Super Bowl-winning team, but now plays for the Carolina Panthers) sharply criticized Trump’s cancelation.
“There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views,” Smith said via Twitter. “The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish.”
Ironically, not a single Eagles player took a knee during the regular season or playoffs. Veteran cornerback Ron Brooks took a knee during the preseason, but he was cut before the regular season started.
Two seasons ago, free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick first sat out the national anthem in protest of the treatment of African Americans in America. Since then, numerous players on most teams have protested in similar fashion.
Before the start of the 2018 season, the NFL ruled that a team would be fined if any players kneeled during the anthem. However, players are now allowed to stay in the locker room during that part of the pregame if they so choose.
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