The national anthem singer at the Sacramento Kings preseason game on Monday drew criticism and praise on social media after she decided to kneel during the performance.
The action by singer Leah Tysse of Berkeley was an apparent protest against racial injustice, reminiscent of what San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been doing before NFL games. The Sacramento Kings went on to beat Maccabi Haifa of Israel 135-96 in an exhibition game – the first-ever basketball game at Golden 1 Center.
In a statement posted to her Facebook page Tuesday, Tysse called the gesture the “most patriotic thing I could do.”
“I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability,” she wrote. “The sad reality is, as a white American, I am bestowed a certain privilege in this nation that is not enjoyed by all people. Black families are having much different conversations with their children about how to interact with the police than white families.”
The singer declined an interview request.
The Sacramento Kings organization said it respected Tysse’s right “to exercise her freedom of speech.”
A team official said Tysse was chosen to sing by a partner organization. The Kings typically hold open casting calls to select singers for the national anthem.
NBA rules require players, coaches and trainers to stand during the national anthem. But the Kings staged their own form of protest by locking arms with players on the Los Angeles Lakers before a game at Honda Center earlier this month.
The Bee’s David Caraccio contributed to this report.