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Baltimore can give NFL players something to stand for

Ravens players kneeled before the national anthem and stood during the playing of the anthem. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

Baltimore has been my home for many years, and the more I travel the more I'm proud to come home to Charm City. I am proud to see effort and care put forth by our leaders as we fight hard for progress in making Baltimore a great home for people of all backgrounds, races and cultures. In the past several years, Baltimore has certainly had its missteps and downright catastrophes. I believe there have been miscarriages of justice in our city, but I also believe our leadership is trying hard and has the best interests of the city in their hearts and that most importantly we have a far better city today than we did 25 years ago, and that we'll be even stronger in another 25 years.

However, it's only through good leadership that we make such strides. I'm writing to urge Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis to show that in the face of the ongoing NFL protests ("Ravens, Steelers stand for national anthem; Baltimore players take knee to pray beforehand," Oct. 1). The NFL protests have not been so simple as "disrespect for the flag" or as unpatriotic as simply "not standing with our troops" — they started as Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the anthem over the treatment of minorities in the United States. These protests have spread through much of the industry, and I believe Baltimore should send a clear message hoping to end these protests — not by disparaging the protesters but by addressing their concerns.

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Between Mayor Pugh's sentiments welcoming immigrants to Baltimore City, our continued struggles with ending police violence against minorities, our pride in our black-owned businesses and a thousand other reasons, I believe Baltimore is trying to address the issues at the heart of the NFL protests every day and that we should say it out loud. I would encourage Ms. Pugh and Mr. Davis to make a statement that Baltimore is working hard to get those NFL protesters back on their feet: not by boycotting businesses associated with the NFL, not by condemning these players' actions as non-patriotic, and certainly not by claiming these athletes don't have a right to protest — but by stating that we are working hard here in Baltimore to give something those players can proudly stand up for.

A leader can either be angry that a complaint is being made, or they can try to address the complaint. I urge you to continue to do the latter. I urge you to show players that come here to Baltimore City that we're not going to try to make them stand or be angry with them for kneeling, but that we're trying to give them something worth standing for. Address the players. Don't let detractors control the dialogue of their protest. Address the fans, address your people and continue to address the issues being protested. Let the Ravens know that we hear them and that someday we hope to give them at first a city they can stand up and be proud of, then a state — and one day a nation.

Robert Hinkal, Baltimore

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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