In sports, games traditionally begin with a patriotic song like the “Star Spangled Banner” or “America the Beautiful,” during which players are expected to stand and salute. In schools and government meetings, students and officials are expected to do the same while reciting the pledge of allegiance. Ever since NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, previously of the San Francisco 49ers, decided to kneel in protest during an August 2016 game while the “Star Spangled Banner” played, a broader movement has spread across the country, now reaching the level of local governments and city councils across the U.S. Last week, New York City Councilmembers knelt outside City Hall to show their solidarity with the NFL players who continue to kneel in protest and recognition of the country’s history of racial violence. This week, West Hollywood City Councilmember Lauren Meister asked her Facebook followers if she and her fellow councilmembers should do the same at the start of a meeting on Monday, October 2, when the West Hollywood City Council would convene for one of its bimonthly meetings.
The post sparked a flurry of responses from West Hollywood citizens, all of whom felt strongly about one side of the argument or the other. Most commenters felt that “taking a knee” was the right thing to do. Others found the act disrespectful.
The discussion on Meister’s page was a microcosm of the discussion the entire country is partaking in when it comes to peaceful protest. On Monday’s meeting, the West Hollywood city council opted to stand for the pledge. When it comes to city council participation all over the states, time will tell whether or not the “take a knee” movement grows.