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  • Race Imboden takes knee during the Men's Foil Team medal ceremony in Fencing at the Pan American Games Lima 2019.

    Race Imboden takes knee during the Men's Foil Team medal ceremony in Fencing at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 August 2019
Opinion

Imboden dropped to one knee Friday during an award ceremony to protest racism, gun violence,  and "a president who spreads hate."

The gold medal-winning fencer from the United States, Race Imboden will possibly be sanctioned for taking a knee during a medal ceremony at the Pan-Am Games according to the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC). 

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Imboden dropped to one knee Friday as a political protest during the ceremony when the U.S. flag was raised. 

“We must call for change. This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan-Am Games, taking home gold and bronze,” Imboden wrote on Twitter. 

“My pride, however, has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.”

The 2016 Olympic team even bronze medalist said his action during the award ceremony was meant “to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”

Previously, Imdboden took a knee during the national anthem at a World Cup event in Egypt in 2017. 

Another U.S. athlete, hammer thrower Gwen Berry made a similar gesture by raising her fist at the end of the national anthem after winning gold Saturday. 

“I love representing my country. America is a great country. It’s the best country in the world,” Berry told USA Today. “However, what we are standing for right now, it is complete and utter – it’s extreme injustice.”

U.S. athletes signed agreements that they would not any kind of political, racial, or religious gestures during the Games. 

“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature,” USOPC spokesman Mark Jones said in a statement.

“In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC. We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment.”

They also said the same Saturday regarding Berry’s gesture. 

Taking a knee by athletes has become a way to register protest after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first did it in 2016 to protest police killings of unarmed Black men.

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