President Trump might not have mentioned Major League Baseball during his weekend attack on professional sports, but players were listening all the same.
The day after Trump’s rally speech in Alabama, in which he called out football players for taking a knee during the national anthem, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first professional baseball player to join the protest, which aims to shine a light on lingering racial inequality in America.
Before Saturday’s game against the Texas Rangers, the 26-year-old catcher from Alabama knelt during the national anthem, while teammate Mark Canha kept a hand on his shoulder. The two embraced afterwards.
The peaceful act of civil disobedience first gained national attention last year when Colin Kaepernick knelt to protest police violence against black people and to raise awareness and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Maxwell clarified his stance in a statement released yesterday. He maintained that he was not disrespecting America by taking the action, but was supporting the diversity upon which the country is built.
“[I]’m kneeling for the people that don’t have a voice,” his statement read. “My kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”
In a tweet later in the day, Maxwell said that the issue has gone beyond Black Lives Matter and into basic inequality.
This now has gone from just a BlackLives Matter topic to just complete inequality of any man or woman that wants to stand for Their rights!
— Bruce T Maxwell (@bruu_truu13) September 23, 2017
During Friday’s speech, Trump said that any player who knelt during the national anthem was a “son of a bitch.” That’s not going to make him any more popular, and it surely won’t stop these protests.