Mayor Pete Buttigieg defended the NFL National Anthem kneeling protests on Thursday as a First Amendment right, citing his military service as a defense.
“It’s a huge part of what makes America America,” Buttigieg said, calling the NFL player protests a “fundamental freedom” protected by the First Amendment.
Buttigieg commented on the issue during a conversation with Washington Post reporter Robert Costa.
“When that same flag was on my shoulder, I didn’t think of the flag as something that itself was an image was sacred, I thought of it as sacred because of what it represented, one of the very things that represented was freedom of speech,” he said.
He said that part of the reason he joined the military was to protect the First Amendment, which he believed gave the right for players to kneel during the National Anthem.
“I felt that I was watching Americans exercise a right that I had put my life on the line to defend,” he said.