CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A large group of protesters gathered near Bank of America Stadium Thursday evening, taking a knee.
The demonstration happened just minutes before the Panthers kicked off their home game with Philadelphia, with the group demanding change from the criminal justice system.
The protest came days after NFL owners announced that they would meet to consider changing the NFL game manual to rule that players should be required to stand for the national anthem during pre-game ceremonies.
Dozens of protesters joined together outside the stadium in a crowd that eventually grew to over 100 people. Local pastors and community activists led the rally, which was announced earlier in the week.
“We will not allow the narrative to be hijacked,” said one activist.
The group took a knee before the anthem with hopes of shedding light on pervasive social and economic issues that plague minority communities.“We are protesting things that have been done, atrocities that have been committed under the banner of the flag and have not yet been adequately dealt with,” said one person.They’ve spoken with the Panthers organization, as well as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police with hopes of encouraging more conversations and change.“Of course, there will always be people who will declare and decide that things of this nature, these kinds of protests if you will, are divisive. The truth of the matter is they’re not divisive, they’re confrontational. And you cannot change what you don’t confront.”