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VIDEO: Activists 'Take a Knee' at Mets Game to Support Athletes' Protests

By Katie Honan | September 25, 2017 2:22pm
 A group of residents held the sign during a Mets game on Friday to support protesting athletes.
A group of residents held the sign during a Mets game on Friday to support protesting athletes.
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Courtesy Dawn Siff

QUEENS — As athletes around the country knelt during the national anthem this weekend to protest racial injustice, a group of local activists took to the stands of a Mets game to show their support.

On Friday, while the anthem was sung at Citi Field before the Mets took on the Washington Nationals, a handful of neighbors held a sign saying, "This Is Us Taking a Knee, Black Lives Matter."

Organizers were planning to take some action, and were encouraged by a sign at a Boston Red Sox game earlier this month that read, "Racism is As American as Baseball." 

"We're trying to do a bold, visible action," explained one of the organizers, Dawn Siff, last week before attending the game.

The goal was not to protest the Mets, she noted, but to encourage allies to stand up for injustice surrounded by hundreds of others.

They planned the protest well before President Donald Trump insulted NFL athletes for taking a knee to protest racial injustice before the start of NFL games — calling any player who participated in the demonstration a "son of a b---h" at a rally in Alabama on Friday. 

His words gave even more meaning to the activists' action, they said.

"We worked hard when we were planning this to have our message be in tune with what is happening in America," Siff said, saying they "hit on the zeitgeist" with the message on their sign.

"As we were doing that [at Citi Field], the president was making his ignorant, hateful, divisive comments."

On Sunday, dozens more NFL players kneeled during the national anthem.

In Jackson Heights, the activists brought their banner to a neighborhood farmers market — their "town square"— where people knelt in front of it to show solidarity. 

The organizers, who are white, said they've asked black friends and other activists how they can be most effective as supporters of the cause, especially after the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

"We have been hearing more and more from our friends and people of color, and our friends in the black activist community, that people need to stand up and be better allies," Siff, 43, said. "We have been emboldened by that.

The tumultuous time has been a turning point for some who say they wouldn't normally take part in a protest. 

One of the activists, Sarah Warren, 46, said she's become more vocal in the past year in standing up for injustice.

"The context has changed dramatically," she said, referring to the political climate. "Now I feel it's up to us to speak up."

Siff said they are eyeing other actions and locales to bring their sign, but ultimately hope to inspire other people to take action. 

"We want to be part of a larger narrative of fans standing up or taking a knee and saying, 'We're not gonna put up with this,'" she said.