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Eric Reid: Goal of anthem protests is to create change

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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San Francisco 49ers strong safety Eric Reid said earlier this month he wasn't planning to kneel during the national anthem before games this season.

Prior to Sunday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, he changed his mind. Television cameras showed him taking a knee as teammates Marquise Goodwin, Eli Harold and Lorenzo Jerome all placed a hand on his shoulder.

Reid told reporters after the game that he decided to take a knee in protest of social injustice after speaking with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick following the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. He said he plans to protest during the anthem all season.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero asked Reid what he hopes comes out of protests around the league:

"Change. The accountability for officers that step outside of the line," Reid said. "We want our president to be a president and not threaten to shut down the government over a wall. To change the oppression that happens in this country, it has no place in the world, let alone America. So, I think our goal is to just keep talking about it. Hopefully, we ... inspire people to do something about it through our protests. And this isn't something that's new. I've learned a lot of things throughout the past year about athletes that have talked about the same things that we're talking about. So, the goal is to just create some change."

Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Reid didn't directly tell him he was planning to protest but was told of Reid's plans by the team's public relations department. Shanahan said he didn't have a problem with Reid's actions.

"I've got no issue with it," Shanahan said. "Everyone is able to go out and do what they want to do. I heard about it before the game but not even worth talking about. I had to get ready for the game."

Last season, Reid joined Kaepernick in taking a knee before games. Like last year, Reid said his protest this season centers upon protesting against social injustice in the United States and raising awareness.

"What I was upset about was the false narratives that were being told about us, people were saying we're un-American, that we're against police entirely and the military," Reid said via ESPN's Nick Wagoner. "And that just wasn't true. At first, I thought that was a small sacrifice to pay to get the word out to raise awareness, and I settled with thinking that raising that awareness was victory.

"Then fast-forward to Charlottesville, and the country sees what an un-American protest really looks like. That's when I had my change of heart, because what Colin, Eli and I did was a peaceful protest fueled by faith in God to help make our country a better place. And I feel like I needed to regain control of that narrative and not let people say that what we're doing is un-American, because it's not. It's completely American. We're doing it because we want equality for everyone. We want our country to be a better place, so that's why I decided to resume the protest."

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is also planning to protest during the national anthem all season.

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