Since the start of the NFL preseason, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has chosen to sit or kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in August. "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."
Kaepernick's protest has launched a national conversation, one that even found its way into the Miss America pageant on Sunday. While the NFL released a statement about Kaepernick's actions and did not condemn them ("Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.") some see the protest as disrespectful and unpatriotic. Kate Upton is apparently one of those people.
The model entered the fray on Sunday when she first reposted an Instagram from her fiancé, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.
"I choose to stand," he wrote in the caption on the photo, depicting him standing with his cap off and his hand over his heart. "Remembering all those who lost their lives 15 years ago on 9/11. Also, the countless who've given their lives defending our freedom here at home. #NeverForget #PatriotDay"
Also on Sunday, four Miami Dolphins players joined Kaepernick in protest by kneeling during the national anthem prior to the Dolphins-Seahawks game.
The Dolphins team owner supported the move. Upton, however, tweeted her disapproval of the gesture.
"This is unacceptable," she wrote. "You should be proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other."
This is unacceptable. You should be proud to be an American. Especially on 9/11 when we should support each other. https://t.co/qFozwaH9Bu- Kate Upton (@KateUpton) September 11, 2016
Protest&speak ur mind whenever u want but during the 120secs you should support the people who protect our freedom. https://t.co/qFozwaH9Bu- Kate Upton (@KateUpton) September 11, 2016
Upton received criticism almost immediately, including from journalist Soledad O'Brien.
Maybe you can be proud to be an American and also protest those things that you think aren't so great about America. https://t.co/klwSIB4DNR- Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) September 11, 2016
@KateUpton where in this picture does it show you they aren't proud to be Americans? Protesting wrongs is how we became a country.- slattern (@slatt3rn) September 11, 2016
The model then elaborated on Instagram with a longer post in which she called the players' kneeling "a disgrace" and "horrific" especially because it happened on Sept. 11.
Upton went back on Twitter to respond to some of the criticism. She acknowledged that the "justice system IS corrupt" but that protest should never happen during the national anthem.
Read my Instagram post. They have every right and SHOULD protest just not during those 2minutes on 9/11 https://t.co/ecBMmUifnw- Kate Upton (@KateUpton) September 12, 2016
Have every right to protest&should stand up for beliefs.Justice system IS corrupt.Not the time during anthem on 9/11 https://t.co/JH1J9gTusV- Kate Upton (@KateUpton) September 12, 2016
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