Biden ‘Respects’ Olympic Athlete’s Right To Turn Away From US Flag
President Joe Biden is said to ‘respect’ Olympic athlete Gwen Berry’s decision to turn away from the US flag during the trials for the games this weekend.
Berry earned her place on the US Olympics team after placing third in the hammer throw during the trials on Saturday, June 26, but she sparked controversy following her success for appearing to turn away from the flag as the national anthem began to play.
While her fellow competitors placed their hands on their hearts, Berry placed her hand on her hip and turned towards the stands. Toward the end of the song, she put a black T-shirt with the words ‘Activist Athlete’ on her head.
Berry faced strong criticism for her actions, with Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw saying she should be removed from the Olympic team, but the Biden administration has since made clear that it respects American citizens’ rights to protest.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the situation during the daily briefing on Monday, when Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked whether Biden thinks Berry’s behaviour was ‘appropriate… for someone who hopes to represent Team USA.’
Psaki responded to say she hadn’t spoken to Biden specifically about Berry’s actions, but stressed that he is ‘incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform all around the world.’
With that in mind, Psaki noted the president would also say that ‘part of that pride in our country means recognising there are moments where we are — as a country, haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, and it means respecting the right of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest.’
The athlete responded to the criticism against her protest on social media, where she argued that people’s negative comments towards her actions show they ‘rally patriotism over basic morality’ and that ‘the commercials, statements, and phony sentiments regarding Black lives were just a hoax.’
She wrote: ‘I never said I hated this country! People try to put words in my mouth but they can’t. That’s why I speak out. I LOVE MY PEOPLE.’
In an interview with the Associated Press following the trials, Berry expressed her belief that organisers played the anthem while she was on the podium ‘on purpose’, adding: ‘I was p*ssed, to be honest.’
They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there.
But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.
Berry is known to have previously protested the national anthem during the 2019 Pan American Games, when she raised a fist as it played during the medal ceremony.
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