In a lengthy post on Instagram, model and actress Kate Upton called out NFL players who protested during the national anthem on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
“Sitting or kneeling down during the national anthem is a disgrace to those people who have served and currently serve our country,” Upton wrote. “Sitting down during the national anthem on September 11th is even more horrific. Protest all you want and use social media all you want. However, during the nearly two minutes when that song is playing, I believe everyone should put their hands on their heart and be proud of our country for we are all truly blessed.”
Players for the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Seattle Seahawks engaged in various acts of objection on Sunday in support of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been protesting during “The Star-Spangled Banner” since the pre-season. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said last month. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Posting a photo of four Dolphins players kneeling during the anthem, Upton wrote that the national anthem “represents honoring the many brave men and women who sacrifice and have sacrificed their lives each and every single day to protect our freedom.” She also cited the election of Barack Obama in 2008 as showing that America “is a place where anyone no matter what race or gender has the potential to become President of the United States.”
Upton added that discourse should happen after the song is over. “I would encourage everyone to please use the podium they have, stand up for their beliefs, and make America a better place,” she said, before citing the rebuilding in Lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks as a demonstration of what happens “in this country when we work together towards a common goal.”
“It is a shame how quickly we have forgotten this as a society,” she wrote. “Today we are more divided then ever before. I could never imagine multiple people sitting down during the national anthem on the September 11th anniversary. The lessons of 9/11 should teach us that if we come together, the world can be a better and more peaceful place.”
After posting the note, Upton was criticized by journalists Soledad O’Brien and Roland Martin for her comments.
“Maybe you can be proud to be an American and also protest those things that you think aren’t so great about America,” O’Brien wrote on Twitter.
“They have every right and SHOULD protest just not during those two minutes on 9/11,” Upton replied.
Martin noted that Upton’s comments were why Kaepernick was protesting in the first place. Upton countered by writing people “have every right to protest [and] should stand up for beliefs.Justice system IS corrupt. Not the time during anthem on 9/11.” She later added that protests should not be held during the national anthem on any day, and “especially on 9/11.”
Upton wasn’t the only star to comment on the NFL protests. Rob Lowe also implored players and the NFL to keep protesting players in the locker room during the national anthem. “Dear @NFL Any player wants to boycott the anthem on 9/11 should be asked to remain in the locker room until kick off. It’s not their moment,” Lowe wrote.
Read Upton’s Instagram remarks below.