Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game Sunday after several players on the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the singing of the national anthem.
The game, hosted in Pence’s home state of Indiana by the Colts, took place two weeks after President Trump railed against athletes kneeling in protest during the anthem, referring to former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others as “son of a bitch.”
“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence tweeted shortly after his walkout. He’d previously expressed support of Trump’s stand against the NFL shortly after the president made his initial comments.
Since Trump first renewed the debate around the protests, kneeling among professional athletes during the national anthem has substantially increased, causing the administration to speak out against the NFL itself. Trump himself noted on Sunday that he’d asked Pence beforehand to leave the game if any player decided to kneel.
A vocal segment of social media users have celebrated the show of resistance among the 49ers players — with many particularly mocking Pence’s Twitter statement on Sunday.
Others condemned Pence’s actions for what they deemed a disregard for the First Amendment and an obfuscation of more pressing issues.