Following in the footsteps of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami did so while kneeling at midcourt, according to ABC News.
Denasia Lawrence, who is black, opened her jacket just before she started to sing, revealing a "Black Lives Matter" shirt, then dropped to her left knee and performed the song. She wrote early Saturday in a Facebook post that it was her way of protesting racial oppression:
We're being unjustly killed and overly criminalized. I took the opportunity to sing and kneel to show that we belong in this country and that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us.
I didn't get paid to sing the national anthem nor was this moment about any sort of fame. Black Lives Matter is far larger than a hashtag, it's a rallying cry.
Miami Heat officials said they were unaware of Lawrence's plan to protest. The team's players and coaches all stood side-by-side and with arms linked for the anthem before their game with Philadelphia. The team plans to continue standing that way for the anthem this season as a show of unity. The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said,
"Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."
"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday in New York. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."
This isn't the first time an anthem singer has kneeled in protest of American "oppression." Singer Leah Tysse, who is white, dropped to one knee as she finished singing the anthem prior to the Sacramento Kings' first home preseason game earlier this month. She wrote on Facebook
I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans. I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."