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Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder + More ‘Take a Knee’ in Solidarity With NFL Player Protests

Photo: Melina Dellamarggio
Photo: Melina Dellamarggio

In 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines, taking a knee during the performance of the National Anthem as a protest against the many issues dealing with equality in this nation. The move spread a little bit more during the 2016 NFL season, with more players joining Kaepernick’s kneeling gesture. With President Trump’s suggestion recently that all players “taking a knee” be fired by NFL owners, he was met with a resounding unification of players, teams and owners around the league over the weekend, and it didn’t just stop with football players, as many musicians “took a knee,” as well, during weekend events.

Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder was playing a solo show at the Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, Tenn., on Sunday night (Sept. 24) when prior to the second song of the night, “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” he dropped to one knee as a sign of solidarity with the NFL players against Trump’s tirade.

The singer also shared his concern with President Trump, later repeating the words “30 minutes,” before later explaining that it would take a North Korean missile just half an hour to reach his home in Seattle. In recent weeks, Trump has exchanged vitriolic words with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un as two sides have threatened action against each other. According to Billboard, the singer told the crowd, “What would you do? You’d scream at the sky and go ‘What the f–? How could this f–king happen? But at that point, that’s not gonna do any good whatsoever.” He continued, “What the f–? Are you kidding us? Can you please stop? Just stop.”

Vedder’s move was in line with what seems to be Pearl Jam’s stance across the board. Prior to Trump’s comments, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready had shown his support for Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett who had been sitting for the anthem this season. Last week, McCready was invited to perform the National Anthem prior to the start of the Seattle Seahawks game in McCready’s home base of Seattle. After the guitarist concluded the performance, he turned his guitar around to showcase a giant No. 72 on the back, the same number as Bennett.

“We talked about it a couple days before,” Bennett said. “He wanted to do something and that was pretty cool that he decided to do that.” McCready told ESPN, “I respect Michael Bennett and I support him 100 percent. I’m looking forward to our families spending more time together, and figuring out how to collaborate on some of his foundation’s programs for kids.” See footage below.

Meanwhile, several other musicians have joined the “Take a Knee” movement. Stevie Wonder did so at New York’s Global Citizen festival in New York over the weekend, and joined fellow musician Dave Matthews in doing so at the Concert for Charlottesville. Pharrell Williams and Roger Waters have also “taken a knee,” while Prophets of Rage‘s Chuck D. offered a photo of his band all wearing Kaepernick jerseys “taking a knee.”

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