Athlete-activist Gwen Berry insisted that the national anthem is “disrespectful” to black Americans.
The Black Lives Matter activist, 31, turned her back on the US flag during a medal ceremony in Oregon and sparked outrage all over the country.
Berry, who placed third at the Olympic Trials on Saturday, was seen standing with her hand on her hip before turning to face the stands instead of the American flag.
As the song came to a close, Berry pulled up her black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” emblazoned on the front to cover her head.
In an interview with CNN affiliate Black News Channel, Berry doubled down on her controversial protest.
“If you know your history, you know the full song of the national anthem,” Berry told the news outlet. “The third paragraph speaks to slaves in America. Our blood being slain all over the floor.”
“It’s disrespectful, and it does not speak for black Americans,” the Olympic hammer thrower said. “It’s obvious. There’s no question.”
The third paragraph of the anthem Berry was referring to contains the following lyrics: “Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution,” and, “no refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”
The 31-year-old also stressed out the comments she made on Twitter, making it clear that she doesn’t hate her country.
“I never said that I didn’t want to go to the Olympic games. I never said that I hated the country, I never said that,” Berry told the Black News Channel. “All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand or acknowledge something that disrespects them.”
The BLM activist later claimed that she had been “set up” and said she felt as though the anthem had been played “on purpose.”
The national anthem has been played once per evening during the Olympic trials but on Saturday, it suddenly rang out while Berry walks to the podium.
“I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose,” Berry said about the timing of the anthem. “I was p***ed, to be honest.”
“They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there,” she added. “But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has.”
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