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Drew Brees Apologizes for Calling Kneeling Before the Flag “Disrespectful”

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Source: Sky Sports

  • In an interview with Yahoo Finance, New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees said he would never agree with anyone “disrespecting” the United States flag.
  • Brees’ comment was in response to a question of how he thinks the NFL should respond to players kneeling in the upcoming season.
  • Brees’ interview went viral, and he was met with a torrent of backlash from major athletes including LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, and even his own teammates.
  • Brees originally doubled down on his comments Wednesday before ultimately issuing an apology on Thursday morning, where he said that he should do more listening and less talking.

Brees Condemns Kneeling as “Disrespectful”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees apologized Thursday morning for saying that he disagrees with kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest.

Brees’ apology came a day after he made his initial comments to editor Daniel Roberts with Yahoo Finance. In an interview, Robert asked Brees how he thinks the NFL will and should respond to players kneeling in the upcoming season.

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said. “Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played and when I look at the flag of the United States. 

“I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War 2, one in the army and one in the marine corps. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place. So everytime I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about.”

Brees continued by saying that the flag symbolizes sacrifices made not only by those in the military but also by those who’ve fought for civil rights.

“Is everything right with our country right now?” he said. “No, we still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect for the flag with your hand over your heart is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better, and we are all part of the solution.”

As of Thursday morning, the clip of that portion of the interview has received over 11 millions views. 

Brees Faces Massive Backlash

Brees was hit with a torrent of backlash as his comments spread across social media. Many notable athletes accused Brees of being tone-deaf. Others asked how he could make such comments given the highly emotional nature of the current protests around the death of George Floyd. 

“WOW MAN!!,” NBA star LeBron James said. “Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of 🇺🇸 and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free.” 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers also joined in on the criticism, posting an Instagram photo of himself locking arms with his teammates.

“It has NEVER been about an anthem or a flag,” Rodgers said. “Not then, Not now. Listen with an open heart, let’s educate ourselves, and then turn word and thought into action.” 

Wednesday night, protesters in New Orleans were heard chanting, “Fuck Drew Brees.” 

One of the most emotional responses came from Brees’ teammate Malcolm Jenkins, who held back tears while explaining what has become common criticism black Americans face when deciding to kneel.

“Our communities are under siege and we need help,” Jenkins said on Instagram “And what you’re telling us is don’t ask for help that way. Ask for a different way. ‘I can’t listen to it when you ask that way.’ We’re done asking for you.”

“People who share your sentiments, who express those, and push them throughout the world—the airwaves—are the problem. And it’s unfortunate because I considered you a friend. I looked up to you. You’re somebody who I had a great deal of respect for. But sometimes you should shut the fuck up.” 

Jenkins later deleted that video, then posted another where he continued to call out Brees. In that second video, he said Brees is blinded by privilege and that even though they’re teammates, he can’t let Brees’ comments slide.

“When we step off this field, and I take my helmet off, I’m a black man walking around America, and I’m telling you that I’m dealing with these things, I’m telling my communities are dealing with these things, and your response to me is, ‘Don’t talk about that here. This is not the place.’ Drew, where is the place, Drew?”

Brees Doubles Down Before Apologizing

As many continued to call for Brees to realize that his words had hurt so many people, he decided to double down in a statement to ESPN Wednesday.

“I believe we should all stand for the national anthem and respect our country and all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms,” he said. “That includes all those who marched for women’s suffrage in the 1920s and all those who marched in the civil rights movements and continue to march for racial equality. All of us… EVERYONE… represent that flag.”

“And I would ask anyone who has a problem with what I said to look at the way I live my life. Do I come across as someone who is not doing my absolute best to make this world a better place, to bring justice and equality to others, and hope & opportunity to those who don’t have it?”

Brees criticizing kneeling is nothing new. In fact, he’s been critical of the movement since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the national anthem in 2016.

Though Brees has time and again condemned kneeling, he has also shown some level of support for the George Floyd protests, participating in movements like #BlackoutTuesday on Instagram. Still, that post was later  flooded by people critical of Brees’ Wednesday comments.

That pressure continued to build overnight until Thursday morning when Brees issued a lengthy apology on Instagram.

“In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country,” he said. “They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy.”

“I am sick about the way my comments were perceived yesterday, but I take full responsibility and accountability. I recognize that I should do less talking and more listening…and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen. For that, I am very sorry and I ask your forgiveness.”

NFL’s Alleged Hypocrisy

Adjacent to Brees’ initial remarks, many have accused the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell of hypocrisy for its response to Kaepernick’s protests during the national anthem.

“The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country,” Goodall said in a statement on Saturday. “The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.”

“We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as a part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”

The statement was then condemned by a number of black activists, including Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills who said, “Save the bullshit.” 

“Shame on you,” Director Ava Duvernay said. “This is beyond hollow + disingenuous. This is a lie. Your actions show who you are. You’ve done nothing but the exact opposite of what you describe here.”

“Colin Kaepernick asked the NFL to care about the lives of black people and they banned him from their platform,” The Athletic reporter Michael-Shawn Dugar tweeted.

See what others are saying: (ESPN) (CNN) (NBC Sports)

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Soldier Charged With Assault After Shoving Black Man in Viral Video

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  • Authorities charged Army soldier Jonathan Pentland with third-degree assault and battery on Wednesday after a viral video showed him shoving a Black man while yelling at him to leave a South Carolina neighborhood.
  • Many people, including dozens who protested outside Pentland’s home this week, condemned the confrontation as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”
  • Pentland and others claimed the unidentified man was picking a fight with neighbors, which the man denied, but police said nothing that may have happened earlier justified Pentland’s actions.
  • If convicted, Pentland faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Viral Video

A U.S. soldier was charged with assault on Wednesday after a video that circulated online showed him yelling at and shoving a Black man in a South Carolina neighborhood.

Footage of the April 8 incident was posted to social media Monday. It shows the Army soldier, Jonathan Pentland, confronting the unidentified man and telling him to leave the neighborhood. 

The other man explains that he’s just walking through the area and doing nothing wrong, but Pentland becomes increasingly aggressive. “You better walk away,” he shouts at the man after shoving him.

“You either walk away, or I’m gonna carry your ass out of here,” he continues before adding, “You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*ker. Get out!”

The man then tries to tell Pentland that he lives in the neighborhood, and Pentland then asks for his address, which he does not give.

The confrontation continues with Pentland cursing and getting in the man’s face. As he does so, the man says that Pentland smells drunk. 

It’s unclear what exactly led up to the confrontation, but in the video, a woman off-camera says the man “picked a fight with some random young lady that’s one of our neighbors.”

“I don’t even know who she is. Nobody picked a fight when someone ran up on me,” the man replies. Another woman off-screen then encourages the man to leave with her, saying, “What’s your name? Come on. You don’t want no trouble.”

Video Triggers Protests Outside Pentland’s Home

After this video spread online, many social media users condemned it as another instance of someone being attacked for “walking while Black.”

In fact, protesters even began demonstrating outside of Penland’s home. Those protests started off peaceful, but deputies were then called after 8 p.m. because unknown individuals vandalized the house. That forced police to shut down access to the area and remove Pentland’s family to another location.

As far as the viral video, deputies were told that the man approached “several neighbors in a threatening manner” and that someone had asked Pentland to “intervene.”

Police did confirm that there are two reports of alleged assault against the unnamed man Pentland shoved that are being investigated. However, they also added that the man has “an underlying medical condition that may explain the behavior exhibited in the alleged incidents.”

Pentland Charged

Either way, police said whatever happened earlier did not justify Pentland’s actions. He was ultimately arrested Wednesday morning and was charged with third-degree assault and battery. He faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail if convicted.

“We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at a news conference Wednesday. “And if you are, you’re going to answer for it, and that’s what we’ve done in this case.”

On top of that, the Justice Department reportedly was investigating. Pentland’s Commanding General even issued a statement condemning his behavior, adding that Pentland “brought disrespect to @fortjackson our Army and the trust with the public we serve.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC News) (Huffpost)

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Texas Students Created Snapchat Group To ‘Slave Trade’ Black Classmates

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  • Freshmen at a Texas high school set up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 
  • A screenshot showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”
  • That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer while a second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
  • The school faced backlash for initially describing it as “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment,” without acknowledging the racism. The district later issued a stronger condemnation and said the students were disciplined but did not list specific consequences.

Racist Snapchat Group

Aledo high school students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus in Northern Texas are making headlines for setting up a Snapchat group to pretend to sell their Black classmates. 

A screenshot reviewed by several local news outlets showed the group name being changed from “Slave Trade” with emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer to “[racial slur] Farm” and then “[racial slur] Auction.”

That image also shows a person saying they would spend $100 on a peer. A second student said they would spend $1 on another, adding “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”

Screenshot of group chat message via KXAS

At least one student who was mentioned as being “sold” in the chats was later sent screenshots of the conversations.

According to a report from the Star-Telegram reported last week, when the issue was brought to Principal Carolyn Ansley, she sent parents an email that didn’t mention the Snapchat group but only cited “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment.”

That caused frustrations because parents felt the issue of racism wasn’t being addressed or acknowledged.

Mark Grubbs, a father of three former students, told KXAS he was sickened by the students’ actions. Grubbs, who is Black, also said he had taken his children out of the district over other racist incidents in the past.

“My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter,” he said.

District Responds

After the incident garnered media attention, the Aledo Independent School District issued a statement.

The district said it learned of the incident more than two weeks ago and started an investigation that involved law enforcement.

“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” it added. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”

District officials spoke with the students responsible as well as their parents, saying they “made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”

The district also said it assigned disciplinary consequences, though it did not explicitly state what those consequences were or state how many students were involved.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (ABC) (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

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What You Need To Know About the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause

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  • The CDC and the FDA have issued a joint recommendation to pause distribution of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine amid reports that six women experienced “extremely rare” blood clots after receiving the single-dose shot.
  • The vast majority of the 6.8 million Americans who were given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have reported minor to no side effects, and no direct link has been established between the vaccine and blood clots at this time. 
  • The two agencies are expected to release updated guidance in the coming days.
  • Several states and cities are now automatically giving the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to people who were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. 

CDC and FDA Recommend J&J Vaccine Halt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, released a statement Tuesday recommending a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, 6.8 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine, most with zero or only mild side effects.

The updated guidance comes after six women, all between the ages of 18 to 48, experienced what both agencies described as “extremely rare” blood clots six to 13 days after being vaccinated. One of those women has died and another is in critical condition.

Neither the CDC nor the FDA has confirmed that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the cause of these blood clots; rather, they said this guidance comes “out of an abundance of caution.”

That’s also in line with Johnson & Johnson itself, which said it’s aware of the reports but added that “no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events.” As a precaution, Johnson & Johnson has also now delayed the rollout of its vaccine in Europe. 

What Happens From Here?

Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Anne Schuchat said further recommendations will come quickly.

FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock echoed that statement, saying, “We expect it to be a matter of days for this pause.”

Wednesday, a CDC committee will convene to discuss the cases and assess their potential significance.

When asked if the government was overreacting to just six cases out of nearly 7 million vaccinations (a criticism made by some online), Schuchat said the CDC pulled its recommendation specifically because the type of blood clots seen in these 6 women requires special treatment, so “it was of the utmost importance to us to get the word out.”

In the meantime, both agencies are urging Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients to contact their doctors if they experience any combination of severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath. 

What If I Had A J&J Appointment?

Both agencies, as well as other health officials, are still urging unvaccinated people to take the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines when available in their area.

The White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator has said that 28 million doses of those vaccines will be made available this week. Notably, that’s more than enough for the country to continue giving 3 million shots a day. 

If you had an appointment scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you’re likely not completely out of luck.

For example, while D.C. vaccination sites are canceling all Johnson & Johnson appointments between Tuesday and this Saturday, the health department there has said it’ll send out invitations on Wednesday to reschedule.

Similar situations were reported in Virginia and Maryland, though some vaccination sites in Maryland are still honoring existing appointments by automatically giving people Pfizer instead. That’s also a process that is now being conducted in places like New York State and Memphis.

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (NBC News) (The Washington Post)

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