The Oakland Unified School District Honor Band was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to honor the national anthem at a major league baseball home game for the Oakland Athletics. Instead, at least 100 young people chose to protest during the national anthem by taking a knee at the baseball game.

One band member interviewed by a Bay Area NBC affiliate said he planned to raise his fist in the air in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“I plan to put my fists in the air for black power, Black Lives Matter,” student Qai S. said. “I plan to do that because I'm a black, young fellow. I want to support all the other black people in the world. It's not fair how they were shot and killed.”

Several band members who spoke with NBC said their protest was directly influenced by the National Football League.

Other band members interviewed by ABC 7 news made the protest about President Donald Trump's remarks.

When asked why he took a knee, band member Bodhi Hirsch referred to the president's comments. “We wanted to say that what he's saying is not ok,” he said.

President Trump arguably stoked the fires of the national anthem protests by referring to protesting players as 'S.O.B.'s.'

“We're proud of our country. We respect our flag,” Trump said. “Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now ... he's fired!'”

Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

Whatever the honorable intentions of the team, the U.S. flag and the national anthem stand for the freedom to civil disobedience. This is a time-honored tradition that extends back to the founding of the country.

By protesting during the national anthem, however, players are risking the perception of disrespect for those who made military and civilian sacrifices to preserve their rights. One alternative to arguably attacking the values Americans hold dear is to protest any other time except during the national anthem.

We must all have unity in order to remedy the grievances that some members of society may have; this cannot be effectively done by alienating over half of the country.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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