Fans are speaking out after Olympic qualifier Gwen Berry supposedly protested the Star-Spangled Banner at the U.S. National trials on Saturday.
Berry had just finished third in the hammer throw which solidified her spot on the U.S. National team and punched her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.
Berry was spotted turning away from the flag with her hands on her hips while the national anthem played. She then pulled out a black t-shirt that read “Activist Athlete” and draped it over her head.
She also has a history of activism. When she won gold at the 2019 Pan-Am games she raised her fist as the Star-Spangled Banner ended. She said then that it was a protest against injustice in the U.S. and the presidency of Donald Trump.
Even with her actions, she is saying that she was set up and that “they” (the U.S. Olympic committee) did it on purpose.
USA Track and Field spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said that “the national anthem was scheduled to play at 5.20 P.M. We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.” On Saturday, the music started at 5.25 P.M.
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Fans have been voicing their opinion about the incident all weekend.
I support athletes right to protest. 🙋🏽♀️ I’m confused why she needs to “turn her back” on the flag 🤷🏽♀️kneeling- raised fist ✊🏽I think still show respect for the flag. Turning ones back on the flag is like turning ones back on the Country & we as Black Americans 🇺🇸 would never do so
— Robin (@Robin_KC_) June 27, 2021
If you don’t want to represent the United States, you don’t have to.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) June 27, 2021
Why protest our country? Why protest when we should be showing out patriotism? There’s billions (literally) of immigrants that would KILL just to be in this country. Yet the ones here take it for granted. I’ve seen first hand how bad 2nd and 3rd world countries are. I love 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
— Rachel (@Pinkimetaphor) June 27, 2021
This statement by @espn is not accurate. Gwen raised her Activist Athlete shirt at the moment of receiving her medal not during the anthem. She stood during the anthem so why the criticism? The photographers who are blowing this up don’t stand or face the flag during 🤷🏾♂️
— Mario Wilson (@mowad1010) June 27, 2021
Would love to see Olympic representatives just pull the athletes who protest
Completely fine to not want to acknowledge anthem, you can just do it on another platform where you’re not representing the US
— Beardown 2.0 (@0Beardown2) June 27, 2021
— Her (@G9_Nicole) June 27, 2021
It’ll be interesting to see what comes from this situation. Some feel as though she was set up, some believe and support what she is doing, while others believe that she should be kicked off the team. If she does have some sort of protest during the Olympics she could very well be fined or even worse.