State News

Scott Walker to NFL players: Stop protesting national anthem, address domestic violence problem

Gov. Scott Walker sent a letter to the NFL Monday urging players to “stop their protests during the anthem and move on from what has become a divisive political sideshow.”

Image By: Thomas Yonash-Cardinal File Photo

Gov. Scott Walker thinks NFL players should stop their “divisive” protesting and focus on speaking out against domestic violence.

Walker sent a letter Monday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith urging the league’s players to “stand for the American flag and the national anthem out of respect for those who risk their lives for our freedoms.”

"It is time for players in the NFL to stop their protests during the anthem and move on from what has become a divisive political sideshow," Walker wrote in the letter.

Walker said that instead of kneeling for the national anthem, NFL players should “speak out, as well as agree to take a personal stand, against domestic violence.”

“Take a stand against domestic violence to keep American families safe,” Walker wrote. “That’s something we can all agree on, and that just might help the NFL reunite with many of its devoted fans.”

Colin Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, started the protest last season when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequities. Since then, and especially after President Donald Trump spoke out against the protesters, the movement has spread throughout the rest of the NFL.

But Walker said after hearing domestic abuse victims’ stories, he was moved to steer NFL players down what he feels is the right path.

“It occurred to me that NFL players could have a remarkable impact on [domestic violence] awareness and prevention efforts,” Walker wrote. “This is an issue that can unite people across America.”

However, not everyone was impressed by Walker’s letter. Some agreed that the NFL must do more to prevent domestic violence, but felt Walker’s criticism of ongoing protests against racial inequality was unnecessary and an entirely unrelated issue.

“Scott Walker might not be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but the rest of us can and should be able to do both,” State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, said in a statement. “Dialogues about racism and domestic violence are not mutually exclusive, and we shouldn’t have to choose between tackling misogyny or domestic violence and systemic racism.”

Sargent also took issue with the governor’s silence about domestic violence issues in the NFL before the protests, dismissing the letter as a “political stunt for Walker to feel relevant.”

“Well, after seven years in office, I’m glad Scott Walker finally woke up this morning and realized domestic violence in the NFL is a problem,” Sargent said. “It’s a shame Walker hasn’t ever spoken up when there’s been literal video evidence of brutal physical assaults, or when a player has been repeatedly accused of sexual assault.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a fact that Walker noted in the letter.

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