A group of Democrats from Chicago slammed the Chicago Bears for backing the NFL’s new policy meant to put an end to player protests during the national anthem, a report says.
The four Democrat members of Congress criticized the Bears’ owners saying that the ban violates the players’ free speech, according to Chicago’s CBS affiliate.
In a letter to Bears ownership, Representatives Robin Kelly, Jan Schakowsky, Bobby Rush, and Danny Davis expressed “disappointment” in the team.
“It is disappointing that your franchise voted to silence the players you employ, during this important national dialogue,” the lawmakers said. “The only way that the city of Chicago, our state, and this nation can move beyond this problem is by engaging in a constructive, respectful, representative discourse that helps communities heal by acknowledging injustices and listening to one another’s voice. This is not the time to silence the aggrieved.”
The Democrats went on to defended players for taking a knee during the anthem.
“Players who kneel silently in no way hamper the ability of the game to be played, nor do they diminish stadium security, business operations, or quality of gameplay,” the letter continued. “The issue of police brutality and inequality for all people of color is the reason that NFL players are using their Constitutional right to free speech and peaceful protest to address this concern.”
The Democrats also demanded to know if Bears ownership voted in the recent NFL meeting that set the policy.
The question comes on the heels of news that San Francisco 49ers Owner Jed York abstained from the NFL’s recent vote to fine teams if their players protest during the national anthem. York also hinted that other teams might have also skipped the vote on instituting the new rule.
Finally, the members of Congress reminded the team that they have “fans of color.”
“You benefit from the support of so many fans of color who share player concerns on the issue of police brutality,” the letter concluded. “One can argue that there is a time for protest, or that we should keep politics out of football, but did your ownership take into account the politics that inspired and the social impact that would result from this new anthem policy?”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.