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Trump Says His Criticism of Anthem Protests ‘Has Nothing to Do With Race’

President Donald Trump said on Sunday that his criticism of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice in the United States “has nothing to do with race.”

“We have great people representing our country, especially our soldiers, our first responders, and they should be treated with respect,” Trump said when asked about his comments by a group of reporters. “And when you get on your knee and you don’t respect the America flag or the anthem, that’s not being treated with respect.”

When a reporter asked asked the president if he is “inflaming racial tensions,” he replied: “This has nothing to do with race. I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.”

These comments follow a feud that ignited over the weekend between Trump and the NFL. On Friday, Trump told a rally in Alabama, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b— off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

In a rare statement addressing a political issue, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Trump’s remarks “divisive,” and said they “demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”

Trump escalated his demands on Sunday morning by calling for fans to boycott the NFL. “You will see change take place fast,” Trump tweeted. “Fire or suspend!”

Throughout Sunday’s football games, players knelt, locked arms, raised fists, sat on the bench, and stayed in the locker room in opposition to the president.

Watch the video below:

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