Gwen Berry, a hammer thrower and activist, has been the subject of fierce backlash since she appeared to be turning her back on the American flag while the national anthem was being performed at the U.S. Olympic Trials this weekend.
Berry, who famously protested during the anthem in the 2019 Pan American Games, caught attention for turning her body toward the stands and away from the flag as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was playing at the trials in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday. Toward the end of the song, she put a black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” on her head. Her competitors DeAnna Price, who won first place, and Brooke Andersen, second place winner, put their hands over their hearts and faced the flag.
Following her protest of the anthem, she drew ire from some conservative voices. Texas congressman Dan Crenshaw said Monday that Berry should be removed from the team. While sharing an article of the incident, Senator Ted Cruz tweeted, “Why does the Left hate America?” Former Republican presidential candidate and ex-Wisconsin governor Scott Walker also blasted Berry on Twitter. __S.8__
“What is wrong with people?” he wrote. “Growing up, everyone stood for the American flag. Didn’t matter your politics, race, sex, income, religion; everyone stood for the flag. It was one of those civic rituals that brought us together. It still should today.”
Berry responded to criticisms on social media by saying that comments from people “show that they “rally patriotism above basic morality” while “the commercials and statements regarding black lives were just hoaxes.”
“I have never said that I hate this country!” she stated in a second tweet. “People try to put words into my mouth, but they can’t. This is why I speak out. “I LOVE MY PEOPLE.”
Berry stated that she felt like the anthem was being played after her award ceremony on Saturday.
Berry stated to the Associated Press, “They did it intentionally.” To be truthful, I was pissed.” She said that it was no coincidence that she was there during the anthem.
Berry stated that they had said they would play the anthem before we walked out and then they did so when we were there. “But I don’t want to talk about anthem, because it’s not important. It doesn’t speak for myself. It has never spoken for me.”
Susan Hazzard, spokesperson for USA Track and Field, stated in a statement Saturday that the USA Track and Field anthem would be played at 5:20 p.m.
“We didn’t wait for the athletes to be on the podium for hammer throw awards. She stated that the national anthem is played according to a published schedule every day.
Berry, who was selected for the Tokyo Olympics, stated that she will continue to fight for racial justice for the U.S.
Berry stated Saturday that “my purpose and my mission are bigger than sports.” “I am here to represent those who have died from systemic racism. That’s what is important. This is why I am here. This is why I am here today.
Berry is not unfamiliar with raising awareness about racial injustice. Both she and Race Imboden, a fencer, were penalized for protesting at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games medal stand. They were placed on probation for 12 months, which was overturned later.