DENVER (CBS4) – No players on either the Denver Broncos or New England Patriots teams knelt during Sunday night’s national anthem, but a protest of alleged social injustice took place at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
A group gathered outside the prime time matchup, in hope of encouraging players to once again take a knee during the anthem in protest of what the group described as systemic police brutality.
“I really want [athletes] to stand up for what they believe in. They kneeled for one week, and then they gave up on their beliefs,” said Sunny Alvarez, the event organizer.
Alvarez, and dozens of others, knelt next to the player entrance of the stadium. Some held signs, others raised their fists in the air.
“If no one else is going to do [protest], I might as well,” Alvarez said.
Wearing a San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick jersey, the former player known for starting the movement, Alvarez hoped to reignite the debate.
“I don’t think that it is disrespectful to the flag, to exercise the rights people fight for in this country,” said Andrew Forlines, a participant in the protest. “[Police] are insidious, they are persistent, and they are pervasive. We need to fight it.”
Although the group claimed the protest was solely focused on injustice among police, others felt it was an insult to the military.
“My husband is a cop, and I find this horribly offensive,” said Shannon Jackson, whom chose to stand in front of the protest among other objectors.
Thousands of NFL fans passed the protest. While some chose to participate, many others vocalized their opposition.
Some fans stood in front of the protest with their hands on their hearts.
“I am going to stand for the national anthem,” said Patrick Ericsson, a Broncos fan. “I think [the protest] is atrocious. For all the things everybody has done in this country, who have died for us.”
Several told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the group had the legal right to protest. Most of the objectors CBS4 spoke with said they felt there were other ways to do so, which were more respectful of the fallen.
“My family died in [Operation Iraqi Freedom], my husband served,” Jackson said. “We all serve that flag. It is that flag that gives us the right to be here.”
The group told CBS4 they would be at the next home game, in hope of encouraging the players to once again take a knee.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.