Washington town cancels Seahawks rally due to ‘potential protest’ of national anthem
Saturday was supposed to be a good time for NFL fans in DuPont, Wash., a small town about 40 miles outside of Seattle. With the Seahawks set to open the 2016 season against the Miami Dolphins this weekend, the town planned a rally to bring the community together and celebrate their shared fanaticism.
On Friday, however, Mayor Mike Courts canceled those plans because of … well, whatever it is that the Seahawks plan to do prior to Sunday's game.
Residents and Businesses of DuPont,
Community’s foundation on many levels is unity. DuPont is a strong, united community and part of a number of larger communities including the United States of America. Right now, we are struggling as a community to balance social justice with criminal justice while trying to find lasting solutions to those issues without vitriol or violence. While unpleasant, the discord we endure today means our community has passion. Resolution without passion rarely leads to long lasting healing. Currently, some members of our community, our athletes, and specifically NFL players including at least one member of our beloved Seahawks, are passionately trying to raise awareness to the state of social justice. Freedom of speech is a tenet of our community, and not honoring our flag is our right. But free speech is not without cost: words and actions mean things and are often times interpreted in a way not intended.
While I respect the right of NFL players to express themselves, they must also respect the fact that their actions are hurtful to the community. As I said before, we need to find answers without violence or vitriol. So, until we as a community can find ways to talk and work together, the City of DuPont will not take sides by offering official support of the Seahawks, NFL, or individual players.
With this in mind, as your Mayor, in consultation with the City Staff, I have decided to indefinitely postpone the Third Annual Seahawks Rally scheduled for Saturday, 10 September. I believe the controversy surrounding the potential protest at the Seahawk game makes it inappropriate to commit City resources to an activity that may be misunderstood or prove offensive to a large number of our residents. This does not mean that I or the City do not support the causes being championed, we simply do not support the protest actions being contemplated.
The other activities scheduled for Saturday remain as planned. We will have a grand opening of the Dog Park in Powder Works Park with vendors a BBQ and follow-up with a public presentation and discussion about the ongoing effort to secure Advanced Life Support capabilities for DuPont.
It's important to note that the Seahawks were not officially affiliated with the rally; this was strictly a town organizing an event in honor of the team.
DuPont, with a population of just over 8,000, lies just west of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a United States military installation shared by the Army and Air Force. According to the Seattle Times, Courts is a retired Army colonel.
On Thursday, Seattle's Doug Baldwin tweeted that the team would “honor the country and flag in a pregame demonstration of unity” that has the support of free-agent long-snapper and former Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, which makes it unclear whether the Seahawks' message before the game will be a protest:
Mayor Courts later told the Seattle Times that he is leaving the door open for a potential reinstatement of the event, depending on whether he receives word from the team about how the Seahawks plan to demonstrate:
“They don’t have to tell me exactly what they will do, just an indication that they will show respect to the U. S. and the flag,” Courts says. “Then I can go back to the council and staff and say, ‘Let’s put this thing back on.’”
Courts says that earlier this week he had a city staff meeting and a “lengthy discussion of the pros and cons” of holding a third annual Seahawks rally at its Powder Works Park.
Seahawks players previously said they were considering joining teammate Jeremy Lane, who sat during the national anthem before their preseason finale to support Colin Kaepernick. The San Francisco 49ers QB began the movement and started a conversation on racial inequality by protesting the anthem. Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, a college teammate of Kaepernick's, became the latest to take a knee during the national anthem prior to Thursday's season-opening win over the Carolina Panthers.
Talked to the @Seahawks What the team will do is a powerful sign of unification + respect for the Anthem + those that fight for our Freedom!
— Nate Boyer (@NateBoyer37) September 8, 2016