A cheerleader has followed NFL players by taking a knee during the national anthem, in a gesture that is recognized as a protest against racism and which has infuriated
The unidentified cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers kneeled ahead of the home game against the Oakland Raiders at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday.
Lenny Herold, a Raiders fan who was at the game, took a photo of the moment which is believed to be the first public protest by an NFL cheerleader.
This photograph taken by Lenny Herold shows a cheerleader taking a knee during the national anthem before San Francisco 49ers take on Oakland Raiders on Thursday November 1 to protest against institutional racism
Lenny Herold, a Raiders fan who was at the game, took a photo of the moment which is believed to be the first public protest by an NFL cheerleader
The photo has been liked thousands of times on Twitter, and shows a brunette woman taking a knee while her fellow cheerleaders stand around her.
The ‘take a knee’ protests began in the NFL in 2016, when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat and later knelt during the anthem before preseason games to silently and peacefully protest racial inequality and police brutality in the U.S.
Throughout the following seasons, the protest spread as more NFL players and some in other sports kneeled during the anthem.
Eli Harold #58, Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium on October 2, 2016
Cheerleaders do not usually break ranks; Thursday’s protest is believed to be the first ever in the NFL
Kaepernick said the protest was sparked by the needless deaths of African Americans at the hands of police, which were also being highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement that began in 2013.
During a post-game interview on August 26, 2016, Kaepernick said: ‘I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.
‘To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder’,
On September 24, 2017, more than 200 players sat or knelt during the anthem in response to President Trump calling on owners to ‘fire’ players who took part.
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2016 and is currently fighting a collusion case against the league for blocking him out.
The peaceful gesture has infuriated some conservatives, particularly Trump and Vice President Mike Pence who, walked out of a NFL game in Indiana on October 8 2017, after several players refused to stand. Pence said he found their actions disrespectful to military veterans.
Trump has been particularly vocal in his disdain for the protests. When it became clear that they would continue into this season, he wrote on Twitter: ‘The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem.
Eric Reid, left, takes a knee during the national anthem prior to the game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, October 14 2018
‘Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love…Be happy, be cool!
‘A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest.
‘Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!’
On Thursday the 49ers went on to defeat the Raiders 34-3.