San Francisco 49ers Cheerleader Kneels During National Anthem

San Francisco 49ers Cheerleader Kneels During National Anthem

A San Francisco 49ers cheerleader took a knee during the national anthem at Thursday's game against the Oakland Raiders at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

Photos of the cheerleader went viral on Twitter. It is unclear who the cheerleader is and the team declined to comment on the matter.

The 49ers' former quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first player to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in 2016. A number of teammates joined him before his contract ended and he was unofficially blacklisted from the league. Kaepernick is suing the league, accusing teams of colluding to keep him out of the NFL over his protest.

Team owner Jed York had been supportive of players who protest.

Former 49ers cheerleader Mariah Mendez told NBC News that several of the team's cheerleaders previously kneeled during the anthem last year.

"That's the crazy part of all this attention: These protests have been going for awhile," she said. NBC News reports that two cheerleaders took a knee last season as well.

Protest comes after Trump criticism: The cheerleader kneeling comes amid mounting attacks from the president himself.

"I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem,” Trump said last month. “Many (military) people have died.”

The NFL considered punishing teams whose players kneeled during the anthem to protest racial injustice but backed off before the start of the season amid a disagreement with the players' union.

Cheerleaders worried about repercussions: Former Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleader Michele Wright, who now works as a broadcast journalist, previously told Elle that most cheerleaders fear being fired to join the anthem protests against racial injustice.

“Bottom line, cheerleaders are a little fish in a big pond,” she said. “Although they are of great worth and value to the football experience and their respective communities, many are undervalued. So to remain neutral, they wouldn’t take a knee.” 

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