Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam House passes bill to compensate 'Havana syndrome' victims Harris 'deeply troubled' by treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Calif.) on Sunday defended NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, saying they should not be "threatened or bullied."
"Let’s speak the truth that when Americans demand recognition that their lives matter, or kneel to call attention to injustice, that that is an expression of free speech, protected by our Constitution, and they should not be threatened or bullied," Harris said in her first comments about the NFL protests during an appearance at the First Congregational Church in Atlanta.
"When we sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' we rightly think about the brave men and women from all backgrounds who proudly defend the freedom of those they may never meet and people who will never know their names. When we sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' we also think about those marching in the streets who demand that the ideals of that flag represent them too," she continued.
Harris's comments come after President Trump said last month that NFL players who kneel during the anthem should be fired.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said during a campaign rally in Alabama.
Players across the country linked arms and kneeled in solidarity last week in response to Trump's comments.
The president tweeted on Saturday that it was "very important" for NFL players to stand during the national anthem.
Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
Only a handful of players knelt during the anthem on Sunday, a shift from the more than 200 NFL players who took a knee last week.