Some NASCAR owners are threatening to fire any employees who exercise their free speech rights by kneeling during the National Anthem to oppose police brutality against African-Americans.
Team owner Richard Childress told USA TODAY how he would crack down on employees who exercise their Constitutional rights:
Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over. I told them anyone who works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people have gave their lives for it. This is America.
Team owner Richard Petty also threatened to fire any employee who dared exercise their free speech rights:
Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period, If they don’t appreciate where they’re at … what got them where they’re at? The United States.
Andy Murstein, the majority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, told ESPN he would not fire an employee who kneels, but showed his ignorance regarding the protests:
I would sit down with them and say it’s the wrong thing to do that [take a kneel], and many people, including myself, view it as an affront to our great country. If there is disenchantment towards the President or a few bad law enforcement officers, don’t have it cross over to all that is still good and right about our country.
Murstein said he understands the tender feelings of both Petty and Childress (who are white and have not been racially profiled by police):
They are all proud Americans who have lived through world wars and turbulent times. While I respect their thoughts — and personally I think it’s the wrong thing to kneel — I wouldn’t fire someone for expressing their feelings.
Walt Czarnecki, executive vice president Team Penske, said, “It’s an issue we’ve never faced and don’t anticipate facing.”
Team owner Chip Ganassi said he liked “Mike Tomlin’s answer.”
Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers coach, stood on the field while most of his players stayed in the locker room.