Indiana bill would force Colts to refund fans offended by anthem protests

A proposed law in Indiana would force the Indianapolis Colts to reimburse fans who request a refund over players kneeling during the national anthem, the Indianapolis Star reported on Thursday

State Rep. Milo Smith (R) reportedly introduced the bill in Indiana's legislature this week. It would require the Colts to offer refunds until the end of the first quarter during home games in which Colts players protest during the national anthem, the Star reported.

The bill would not require the Colts to refund tickets if members of the opposing team kneeled. 

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Dozens of NFL players have joined in protest during the national anthem before games meant to highlight police brutality and racism, a trend that began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"I'm pretty patriotic, and it didn't sit right with me," Smith told the Star. "To me, when they take a knee during the national anthem, it’s not respecting the national anthem or our country."

"Our government isn’t perfect, but it’s still the best country in the world, and I think we need to be respectful of it," he said. Smith says the law was inspired by his attendance at a Sept. 24 Colts game before which multiple Colts players kneeled during the anthem.

A request for comment from Smith's office was not immediately answered.

The Indiana ACLU released a statement condemning the bill, which it claims would amount to the government "fining political speech" by Colts players.

"In effect by passing the law, government would be weighing in ... and fining political speech by the Indianapolis Colts," state ACLU director Jane Henegar said, according to the Star. "It seems like the worst thing that could happen is government weighing in and trying to control in any direction the political speech of private actors."

The Sept. 24 game that inspired Smith's bill took place a week before Vice President Pence left a Colts game early after several members of the opposing San Francisco 49ers kneeled in protest.

"I left today's Colts game because President TrumpDonald John TrumpPaul Ryan defends Navy admiral after Trump's criticism Trump discussing visit overseas to troops following criticism: report Retired Army General: Trump is ‘acting like an 8th grader’ in attacking ex-Navy SEAL who led bin Laden operation MORE and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence tweeted at the time.