Military planes fly over Levi's Stadium on Thursday during the playing of the national anthem. A cheerleader took a knee during the pre-game anthem, and may be the first NFL cheerleader to do so.
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Military planes fly over Levi's Stadium on Thursday during the playing of the national anthem. A cheerleader took a knee during the pre-game anthem, and may be the first NFL cheerleader to do so.
Credit: AP

NFL Cheerleader Kneels During National Anthem

A cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers knelt during the U.S. national anthem on Thursday evening, just before a game against the Oakland Raiders. The woman has not been identified, and her decision to kneel echoes player protests against racism and police brutality.

Football player Colin Kaepernick started the protests when he kneeled during a pre-game anthem in 2016. He is a former player for the 49ers.

Spectators photographed the cheerleader kneeling while the rest of her squad held up pom-poms in unison during the Star Spangled Banner.

NBC reporter Damian Trujillo also tweeted a shot of the cheerleader kneeling on one knee, with her hands on her hips.

This may be the first time an NFL cheerleader has kneeled during the anthem. Cheerleaders for college-level football teams have kneeled in protest before. Last year five members of Kennesaw State University's cheerleading squad in Georgia knelt during the national anthem. A local NBC affiliate reported that four of the five cheerleaders were not asked back on the team.

Kaepernick left the 49ers in 2016, and still has not signed on with another team. He is suing the NFL for allegedly freezing him out of playing professional football because of his activism. [Copyright 2018 NPR]