White House defends Olympian who turned her back on the flag
Fox News host Jesse Watters says he’s going to change the channel when Gwen Berry is competing on ‘The Five’
An old photo of Gwen Berry, the Olympian hammer thrower who came under the spotlight over the weekend for turning her back while the national anthem sounded, went viral on Wednesday.
The picture, dug up by internet sleuths, showed Berry joyously holding the American flag as she kept her dream to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics alive. The photo appears on Berry’s old personal website touting her accomplishments.
It’s unclear when the photo was taken. The blog post is dated June 12, 2015. Berry had come in first at the 2014 Pan American Sports Festival in Mexico City in the hammer throw event. The page was made to showcase Berry before she eventually made the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
The photo made the rounds on social media with some questioning what changed over the last six years.
Berry finished in third place at the trials and made the team set to head to Tokyo next month for the coronavirus-delayed Olympic Games. But she drew negative attention when she turned away from the American flag as the national anthem blared and later would cover her face with a shirt that read “Activist Athlete.”
Amid scrutiny and boisterous claims she shouldn’t be representing the U.S. in the Games, Berry fired back in an interview with the Black News Channel on Tuesday.
“I never said that I didn’t want to go to the Olympic Games, that’s why I competed and got third and made the team,” Berry said.
“I never said that I hated the country. I never said that. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand for or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people. Point blank, period.”
Berry claimed she specifically has an issue with a line in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which she says alludes to catching and beating slaves.
Berry said: “If you know your history, you know the full song of the national anthem, the third paragraph speaks to slaves in America, our blood being slain…all over the floor. It’s disrespectful and it does not speak for Black Americans. It’s obvious. There’s no question.”
It’s not the first time Berry has protested during Team USA events.
Earlier in the week, she raised a fist in protest before one event. She also raised a fist during the national anthem after winning gold in the 2019 Pan American Games.
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