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Poll: ‘Profound Racial Divide’ Over US Anthem Protests 

FILE - San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert, left, stands as Eli Harold, from bottom left, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game in Santa Clara, California, Oct. 2, 2016.

A public opinion poll finds black Americans overwhelmingly approve of protests that athletes across the country have been staging for several weeks. The athletes fail to stand respectfully silent during the traditional playing of the U.S. national anthem before major sporting events.

A poll by Quinnipiac University found that 74 percent of African-Americans approve of the protests, begun by quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers football team.

Kaepernick’s protest has been joined by a number of professional athletes in a wide variety of sports. Those participating either do not stand or they kneel as the anthem is played, in what the athletes have said is a bid to raise awareness of complaints about racial injustice in some sectors of American society.

The poll released this week showed that white Americans overall disapprove of the protests by a margin of 63 percent to 30 percent. Hispanic Americans disapprove by a smaller margin, 45 percent to 36 percent.

Only 17 percent of African-Americans disapproved of the protests.

“There is a profound racial divide over athletes who refuse to stand for the national anthem,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

In addition to the racial disparities, Americans’ views of the protests contrasted sharply when they were separated into age groups.

The millennial age group, defined as 18 to 35 years old, broadly agreed with the athletes’ protest strategy, by a margin of 52 percent to 37 percent. Racial or ethnic differences were not a factor when survey participants were grouped by age.

Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills kneel during the national anthem, Sept. 11, 2016.
Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills kneel during the national anthem, Sept. 11, 2016.

A majority of Americans from 35 to 49 years old — 54 percent — said they disapprove of the protests, which media accounts have equated with the black lives matter social protest movement.

Among those 50 to 64 years old, about 60 percent disapproved of the protests, and 70 percent of those older than 65 also viewed the athletes’ action negatively.

The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,391 adults nationwide October 7-9 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.