A singer knelt while performing the national anthem at a Miami Heat basketball game on Friday and opened her jacket to reveal a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter,” a variation on a protest that has punctuated many U.S. sporting events since the summer.
Like other anthem protests, the gesture by Denasia Lawrence was intended to highlight what activists say is unfair police treatment of minorities. The trend began in August when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” before a preseason National Football League game.
Lawrence, a social worker, wrote on Facebook that the opportunity at the preseason Heat game “was bigger than me.”
“Right now, we’re seeing a war on Black & Brown bodies – we’re being unjustly killed and overly criminalized,” she continued. “I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel; to show that we belong in this country AND that we have the right to respectfully protest injustices against us. I took the opportunity to sing AND kneel to show that, I too, am America.”
In a statement, the Heat said, “We were unaware of it ahead of time.”
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