Sacramento Kings Anthem Singer Took Knee Against ‘White Privilege,’ ‘Institutionalized Racism’

TALLADEGA, AL - MAY 05: A giant American Flag waves above the track during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 5, 2013 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Leah Tysse cited “police brutality” and “white privilege” on Tuesday to justify kneeling during the national anthem before a Sacramento Kings-Maccabi Haifa B.C. exhibition game on Monday night.

“I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability,” the singer wrote on Facebook. “I believe that the majority of police are good and are against this too and as a nation we all need to speak up. We should all be outraged and demand justice and an end to the brutality.”

She dipped to a knee while belting out “for the land of the free” and remained there for “and the home of the brave.” The gesture took place before the first Kings game at their new home at the Golden 1 Center. Some in the crowd cheered her act of disrespect before the Kings disrespected their opponent 135-96.

“This act embodies the conflict many of us feel,” she wrote. “I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans. I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do.”

The Bay Area-based singer boasts of working as a “featured soloist” at Glide Memorial Church, whose then-pastor Cecil Williams removed the symbol-of-death cross from his house of worship in the 1960s and allied with Angela Davis and Jim Jones during the 1970s, on her website. On her Twitter account, she confesses to cringing at the Republican National Convention and promotes veganism.

“Until we can recognize that white privilege exists we cannot have a dialogue about race,” she explained on Facebook about her hardwood protest. “Whether or not you can see if from your vantage point, there is a deep system of institutionalized racism in America, from everyday discrimination to disproportionate incarceration of people of color to people losing their lives at the hands of the police simply for being black. This is not who we claim to be as a nation. It is wrong and I won’t stand for it.”


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