Amid the national debate over free speech and protests against alleged police brutality, a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in St. Charles has stopped showing National Football League games because members feel players are disrespecting the flag.
A news release issued by Post 2866’s commander, Paul Schmidt, said NFL games won’t be shown anymore in the post’s Club Room until the league and its players “show proper respect to our flag.”
Schmidt said all members attending a meeting Wednesday voted to turn off the NFL games.
Their decision is in reaction to football players on various levels, from pro to high school, protesting police behavior toward African-Americans by kneeling or remaining in the locker room as the national anthem plays.
The Club Room is the Post’s bar and is open to the public. If people stop coming to the Club Room because there’s no pro game to watch, it could cost the VFW Post $300 to $400 per week, Schmidt said.
But to post members, “it’s not about money; it’s standing up for what we believe in,” Schmidt said. Just as players have a right to protest at any venue and for any purpose they choose, so, too, does the VFW post, he said.
“The flag represents the United States of America, and it has nothing to do with what’s going on in their minds or how they think the police are unjustly shooting their people,” he said.
“We got a lot of guys that came home with that flag draped on their coffins, so to us it’s a disrespect.”
Instead of taking the protest to a national stage as large as the one offered by NFL games, Schmidt wishes the protests would remain where, to him, they belong.
“Obviously they’re entitled to their opinion and to protest but this is not the proper venue for them to do that,” he said. “If they want to do like they do in St. Louis and hit the streets, that’s great, we’re all behind that, if they feel there’s an injustice there.”
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Also, here’s the official “I Don’t Kneel” t-shirt (we have hoodie, long-sleeve and v-neck options, too!) that has part of the proceeds going to the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans!
Also, here’s the official “America’s Away Colors” t-shirt (we have a hoodie version, too!).