Wake County

Raleigh mayoral candidate condemns NFL players who take a knee

Raleigh mayoral candidate Paul Fitts suggested in a Facebook post Monday that the NFL players kneeling for the national anthem were guilty of a wide array of criminal activities.
Raleigh mayoral candidate Paul Fitts suggested in a Facebook post Monday that the NFL players kneeling for the national anthem were guilty of a wide array of criminal activities. Facebook

Mayoral candidate Paul Fitts has posted a statement on Facebook condemning last weekend’s NFL protests and the players involved.

Many NFL players and team owners knelt or locked arms during the playing of the national anthem at last weekend’s games, after President Donald Trump called for kneeling players to be fired. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the practice last year as a protest of police brutality toward African-Americans. Other players had joined him since, but never had so many taken a knee until last Sunday.

On Monday, Fitts posted the following to his Facebook page:

Fitts has been endorsed by the Wake County Republican Party and the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association. He is running against Democrat Charles Francis and incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane, an unaffiliated voter, in the Oct. 10 election.

“This isn’t anything race-related,” Fitts said in an interview Thursday. “You can look all across the NFL and see plenty of people who have committed crimes and never seen five seconds of jail over it.”

Fitts followed up the next day with another post. “Underpaid police officers do more good in the community than the overpaid NFL kneelers,” he wrote.

“They’ll say it’s because of police brutality or oppression, but I’ve heard four or five reasons so far,” Fitts said about why people are protesting. “If you ask any cop about anybody, they’ll say the liars are the ones who change their stories. This is an opportunity for the NFL players to stand together as a community, as a nation. But they’re not considering everybody. They’re considering something in their microcosm instead of standing together with us.”

The 48-year-old mortgage lender has made higher pay and better benefits for Raleigh’s first responders the focal point of his campaign.

“Every time I go into a fire station or talk to a police officer, I can tell you those communities support me,” Fitts said. “I have some haters out there, but they don’t realize they’re campaigning for me, too.”

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton discusses freedom of speech, how protests are not meant to offend the US flag, and the possibility of other team members participating in a future protest.

Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan

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