Gwen Berry: Asked about protesting if she reaches the Olympic podium, the athlete said: “We’ll see”

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Last month, after qualifying for her second Games, hammer thrower Berry turned away from the flag as “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed at the medal ceremony and draped a T-shirt wearing the words “militant athlete” above her head.

Berry later said she was “settled” on the podium after learning that the anthem would be played first.

His actions caught the attention of supporters and critics, especially ahead of Tokyo 2020, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) upheld the rule 50 ban preventing athletes from protesting or demonstrating.

When asked if she would abide by the Rule 50 ban, Berry told CNN’s Don Lemon, “It depends on how I’m feeling. what I want to do for my people at this time. “

“And I will do whatever happens to me and whatever is in my heart,” she added.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee has allowed athletes to participate in “respectful racial and social justice demonstrations” during the trials.

In 2019, Berry lost some of his sponsorships after raising his fist in protest on the podium at the Pan American Games in Peru.

She received 12 months probation from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee for the act, which she said was meant to highlight social injustice in America.

Berry (left) has been criticized for her actions by Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Dan Crenshaw, the latter calling for the 32-year-old to be removed from the Olympic squad.
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A complicated story

Berry said she made the decision to protest in trials last month because she “won’t stand up for any type of symbol or song that doesn’t represent everyone in America.”

“It’s the first verse, it’s the third verse, it’s all those words,” she said. “Freedom, justice. He mentions slaves. These are things that are not true of all Americans.”

Written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, the “Star Spangled Banner” was inspired by the American victory at the Battle of Fort McHenry. Some interpret the lyrics in the third verse, where Key mentions the word “slave,” as he rejoices over the deaths of freed slaves, who fought with the British against the United States.
The tradition of playing the anthem at American sporting events dates back to 1918, but other black athletes have suffered from their decision to use this moment to protest social justice – most notably NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

Berry said his desire to take a stand against social inequality is more important than the impact it might have on his career.

“I’ve been through it all […] and yet I’m still here, always saying that my black communities need help. “

Long before Colin Kaepernick knelt, a black athlete challenged the US national anthem, but it has been largely forgotten

“I am extremely American”

The 32-year-old Berry has been criticized for her actions, but she has also received support.

While White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she had not spoken to US President Joe Biden about the incident, she said he would admit that “part of that pride in our country means recognizing that there are times when we, as a country, have failed to live up to our highest ideals, ”and therefore uphold Berry’s right to“ demonstrate peacefully ”.

“I think it was perfect. They said it, I respect it,” Berry said in response. “Let’s be clear. I respect the constitution, because obviously I was exercising my constitutional right.”

Berry holds his "Activist athlete"  T-shirt on the head.

She acknowledged the condemnation she received, saying that while she understood why people took offense, she would continue to stand up for what she believes in.

“They can feel what they feel, but I am extremely American because I will fight for the people here, because we have endured it here,” she added. “People have continued to capitalize on our unpaid workforce, for over 400 years […] so how can they be mad at me for standing up for my people? “

When asked if she would ever defend the flag or the national anthem, she replied: “Of course. […] until these issues are resolved, until these communities are supported, and until America takes full responsibility for the things black people face here.

“America is the biggest country in the world. We are capable of solving these problems. I’m sick of talking about it. I won’t do it again.”

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