A number of City Council members took a knee in front of City Hall this afternoon, before sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance in the council chambers, in solidarity with Colin Kapernick.
City Council Members including Jumaane Williams, Inez Barron, Antonio Reynoso, Andy King, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, Danny Dromm, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Bill Perkins all knelt in front of City Hall at around noon today, while Mark-Viverito and Williams held a Kapernick jersey.
Council members hold "kneel in" in support of protesting football players. pic.twitter.com/UwA6OWW6CG
— Erin Durkin (@erinmdurkin) September 27, 2017
After the "kneel-in," the council members held a brief press conference. Williams told assembled reporters that "when this started months ago, many of us made clear this wasn't about the flag or patriotism, this was about pushing back against a system of supremacy, a system of oppressive policies that have been around for a very long time."
Williams called protesting "the most American thing one can do." He also said that in addition to supporting Kapernick and other NFL players who have been targeted by President Donald Trump, the kneeling council members wanted to "point out and uplift the Americans in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands," who Williams said were being ignored and not getting the resources they needed.
"Every time this question of protest comes up, and what is a patriot, there are people who try to say if you protest in this manner you're not a patriot. And they have lost," Williams said.
Council Member Danny Dromm, who recently took a picture with his staff in which they knelt next to a Black Lives Matter flag, said he joined the kneel-in as an ally.
— Daniel Dromm (@Dromm25) September 26, 2017
"I feel that white people, myself included, need to stand up for this cause, and we need to remember how it all started: as a reaction against police brutality and the experience African-Americans and people of color experience at the hands of the police," Dromm said. "However, times now require us, as an openly gay person, to stand up against the Trump administration and everything that the Trump administration stands for."
After the kneel-in, a number of council members sat for the Pledge of Allegiance inside the council chambers. Williams made headlines last year when he sat through the Pledge before a City Council meeting.
— Madina Toure (@madinatoure) September 27, 2017
Two of Staten Island's three Council representatives announced that they were skipping the kneeldown, though those statements were starkly different. Council Member Steven Matteo tweeted that he respected the right to protest but would still stand for the Pledge. Fellow Staten Islander and Trump surrogate Joe Borelli decided to shitpost instead, attempting to trigger the libs with an American flag tie and the message "if this offends u, don't vote for me."
— Joe Borelli (@JoeBorelliNYC) September 27, 2017
On the other end of the political spectrum, Change The NYPD challenged the kneeling council members to put their money with their mouths are and pass the Right To Know Act, which supporters say would improve transparency and accountability within the department:
— CPR Change the NYPD (@changethenypd) September 27, 2017