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Alejandro Villanueva’s Jersey Is Top Seller After He Was Only Steelers Player To Stand During National Anthem

Joe Robbins / Getty

Yesterday, as the NFL began its Sunday games, several players and coaches protested President Trump’s disparaging remarks against Colin Kaepernick and the NFL by taking a knee or not showing up for the National Anthem altogether.

The controversy between Trump and the NFL first began on Sept. 22, when the president spoke about NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests (without mentioning his name), saying that players that “disrespect our flag” should be fired by the team owners. He also added during his rant that if players take a knee during the “Star Spangled Banner,” coaches should “get that son of a bitch off the field.”

As football games began on Sunday, several teams came out to show solidarity towards Kaepernick and the right to protest. The Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans didn’t come out during the anthem in Nashville and opted to stay in their locker rooms during the anthem. During Sunday Night Football, the Oakland Raiders sat during the anthem, while their opponents, the Washington Redskins, chose to step out onto the field with locked arms.

Before their game with Chicago, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told CBS that his team was going to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

Initially, news outlets believed that all Steelers players remained in the locker room. One player did come out and placed his hand over his heart.

Alejandro Villanueva was the only player to stand during the “Star Spangled Banner.”

CREDIT: Credit: Joe Robbins / Getty

According to Penn Live, the players gathered in a secret meeting and discussed how they would respond to Trump’s comments. They all voted on three options: “They could stand along the sideline holding hands. They could stay off the field, which they did. Or they could take the sideline with some players kneeling, some standing and some of them standing putting their hands on the shoulders of the kneeling.”

All of the players voted to stay off the field with the exception of Villanueva, a military veteran.

“[Villanueva] was cool with it, with whatever we went through. He was on board. That’s Al, man,” Steelers Offensive tackle Christopher Hubbard said. “He’s a good guy.”

But because of time constraints, the players couldn’t stay in the locker room but had to stay in the tunnel, Cleveland.com reports. Villanueva didn’t want to be singled out but at the last minute, he stepped out of the tunnel and saluted the flag.

While Villanueva has yet to comment as to why he chose to stand alone, his career as a serviceman is an indication as to his support for the anthem. He also has spoken against Kaepernick’s decision to protest. Last year he told ESPN: “I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year… when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year.”

Although some attempted to use Villanueva as an example of a Latino athlete who was “standing up” to those protesting…

Villanueva’s parents are from Spain, not Latin America. 

Before becoming an NFL player, Villanueva served three tours as a U.S. Army Ranger Afghanistan.

Defensive end Cam Heyward commented on Villanueva’s actions on Sunday saying: “I don’t want to go into that, but we support our guy Al,” Heyward said, according to CBS Sport. “He feels he had to do it. This guy served our country, and we thank him for it.”

Another teammate, right guard David DeCastro, also said: “Al is a unique circumstance, what he’s been through, some of the things he’s talked about before. I’ve got a lot of respect for Al. I wish there was a different way to do this thing. We’ve got some people who look at the national anthem as patriotism, soldiers, all the stuff that it means, and obviously, people are upset, and I understand that. I just wish both sides understand that they want the right thing, but doing it through the national anthem, I wish there was a different way.”

While his teammates supported him, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t too pleased with Villanueva.

Like I said, I was looking for a hundred percent participation,” Tomlin told reporters after the game. “We’re going to be respectful of our football team. Man, these are divisive times in the United States. And it’s a shame, but it is, but we’re not politicians. We’re coaches and professional athletes. If those of us are individuals choose to participate in politics in some way, I’m going to be supportive of that, but when we come out of locker rooms, we come out of locker rooms to play football games, and to be quite honest with you I didn’t appreciate our football team being drug into politics this weekend. And I’m sure that’s a global perspective.”

Less than 24 hours since Villanueva saluted the flag, his gear is now the top-selling NFL gear, beating out Tom Brady.

A spokesman for Fanatics told ESPN Villanueva gear “jerseys and name and number T-shirts” has outsold all other items from various athletes.

UPDATE: In a press conference held earlier today, Villanueva said he was embarrassed for “butchering” the team’s plan to not come out for the anthem.

CREDIT: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / Facebook

Villanueva later apologized for making his coach, teammates and team “look bad” in the process. “Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed,” said Villanueva.

READ: This Latino Kicker Is So Good, An NFL Team Made An Unusual Move Just To Get Him

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A Man Was Arrested By ICE After Criticizing Their Policies So Two NFL Players Bailed Him Out

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A Man Was Arrested By ICE After Criticizing Their Policies So Two NFL Players Bailed Him Out

jno24 / d56davis / Instagram

Three months ago, we reported the ICE arrest of immigrant activist José Bello. Bello arrived in this country when he was just three years old, but he isn’t afraid to speak up and advocate for change. Bello has become a powerful activist in the undocumented community and used his poetry to criticize U.S. immigration policies. He did just that at a public forum at the Kern County Board of Supervisors by reading aloud his poem titled “Dear America.”

Less than 36 hours later, he was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and taken to the Mesa Verda detention center. The ACLU has represented Bello and contested the arrest as a violation of first amendment rights under the grounds that his arrest and the high bail bond was a “retaliatory” response from ICE to his poem. After 89 days in detention, unable to hold his son, NFL players Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins and Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints teamed up with the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund and the National Bail Fund Network to pay Bello’s $50,000 bail.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) separated him from his son just two days after he recalled telling his son, “We will never be apart, chiquito.”

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

Bello’s poem effectively tells America that immigrants aren’t out to get them–they’re here to “work hard, pay taxes, and study”… and build a safe home for their families. Here’s an excerpt:

“The fight has begun
‘We will never be apart chiquito,’ is what I promised my son.
Y’all can try to justify your actions. Try to make excuses.
The bottom line here is that at the end, the people always triumph and the government loses.”

Bello is a 22-year-old father of one, a farmworker, and Bakersfield College student.

Credit: @MVLiberation / Twitter

The ACLU also points to his $50,000 bond as a retaliation attempt by ICE given that he makes just $20,000 a year. During his 89 days of detention, he said, “I could see my whole future going out the window.”

“Those three months that I was detained, I just felt like it was cruel,” Bello told The Washington Post. “I couldn’t hold my child. I would have to push him away from me or I would get in trouble. I don’t think any parent should have to experience that. How do you do that to a child? I feel guilty about that, and I’m trying to make up for that time I couldn’t spend with him.”

Bellos said “it seemed like a dream” that NFL players were bailing him out.

Credit: @ufwf / Instagram

Above is an image of Bello reunited with his chiquito niño–finally able to give his son a hug, free from ICE. “To me, it seemed like a dream,” Bello told The Washington Post. “It’s like something that you hear about in movies. I watch football, and I know how much attention and how famous those people are, so just the fact that they would look into helping me out, it was a great honor. I know who they are. I was shocked in a good way.”

Washington Redskins’ Josh Norman and New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis made his release possible.

Credit: @NFL / Twitter

“Jose Bello was exercising a fundamental right that we pride ourselves on as Americans,” Washington Redskins player, Norman, told ACLU. “If he was detained for reciting a peaceful poem then we should really ask ourselves, are our words truly free? This is America right? Where the 1st Amendment is freedom of speech unless I missed the memo somewhere. He was exercising that right.”

New Orlean Saints player, Davis, remarked, “We’ve seen ICE round up nearly 700 people in Mississippi and leave their children without parents, we’ve seen them turn away asylum seekers who will face certain death in their home countries. Is this America? We must say no, and we must start by helping our most vulnerable.”

Norman and Davis are both members of the independent “Players Coalition,” which “exists to end social injustices and racial inequality so future generations have opportunity to thrive without barriers.”

Credit: @playerscoalition / Twitter

The Players Coalition was founded in 2017 by Anquan Boldin and Malcom Jenkins. The Coalition also has a Task Force Board of 12 voting members, all of whom are NFL players, with the money and social influence to effect change. For example, Davis also helped push through LA House Bill 265 which expanded voting rights to returning citizens and Chris Long gave his entire year’s salary to educational initiatives.

Listen to Jose Bello’s “Dear America” to see why ICE retaliated.

The fight isn’t over. While Bello is out on bond, he’s still facing a judge’s decision about whether he will be deported or allowed to stay in America. ICE claims his arrest was the result of a DUI four months prior. ACLU suggests the timing is far more likely tied to his activism.

READ: An Activist Read A Poem Criticizing Inhumane Immigration Policies And ICE Arrested Him Two Days Later Now His Community Is Standing Behind Him

The Bernie Campaign Teamed Up With Cardi B To Talk About Police Brutality, DREAMers And Raising Wages

Entertainment

The Bernie Campaign Teamed Up With Cardi B To Talk About Police Brutality, DREAMers And Raising Wages

@BernieSanders / Twitter

Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and rapper Cardi B have been teasing their on-screen discussion on issues ranging from police brutality to canceling student debt for a few weeks now. Finally, the Sanders campaign published the video in all its nearly ten minutes of glory.

The two met at Detroit’s TEN nail bar, a deluxe nail salon founded and operated by two women of color. Cardi B came prepared with a list of questions that her own followers have brought up with her. In essence, Cardi B served as a representative of her fans’ political interests and brought them to a Presidential candidate to see if he would be the guy to officially represent their needs in the nation’s most meaningful capacity–as POTUS 2020.

Six weeks ago, Cardi asked her fans what they would want to hear Bernie Sanders discuss.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

On July 2, the rapper shared a video to Instagram telling her followers that her number one question to Bernie Sanders is about how to end police brutality in this country. “What would you like to ask? what change would you like to see in your community and in the USA 🇺🇸?” she posted. “2020 is getting very close let’s get familiar with who is running and how they can change the country! Put your questions down below and your questions may be answered very soon.”

Nobody expected she was actually going to sit down with Bernie Sanders and represent the Bardi Gang’s political issues.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

Hilariously, Sanders wiggled his fingers alongside Cardi B’s as he told us that, “Cardi B’s nails are juuuust a little different than mine. Our views on the issues are pretty similar.” 

Cardi B absolutely nailed it as an interviewer. She steered the conversation and truly represented her followers’ interests. She opened the video to remind everyone that, “A couple of weeks ago, I asked my followers what types of questions would you want to ask a Democratic candidate. Let’s go baby.” Here are the takeaways.

Number one: Cardi and Bernie’s shared goal is getting Trump out of office.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

“You know what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to advocate the youth in my community because I feel like there’s a serious problem right now in America,” Cardi opens. “We have this bully as a President and the only way to take him out is somebody winning.”

“We’ve got to get rid of Donald Trump, obviously. Because Donald Trump is an overt racist. He’s just way out there.”

The first question on Cardi’s mind is putting an end to police brutality in America. Bernie has a three-pronged plan.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

Cardi B got vulnerable and talked about the mental effects of what it’s like to “constantly see on social media police brutality against black men and against minorities. What are we going to do to change that, because that is discouraging our people? We constantly see our men getting killed every day, and it seems like nobody cares.”

Sanders wants to end the militarization of police departments, which he sees as a form of intimidation.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

To address police brutality, he wants the Department of Justice to investigate every police killing to ensure accountability and prevent local police departments from covering up crimes. He also wants to federally obligate police departments to “look like the community they serve” and “not like an oppressive army.” Sanders related to the “disgust” of seeing 1 in 4 young black men in the criminal justice system. His solution to that specific issue is to invest in free education instead of investing in prisons and incarceration. 

During his first week as President, Sanders will reinstate the executive order that gave protections to DREAMers, and he wants to extend those protections to their parents.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

Cardi had recalled meeting a fan who enrolled for protections under DACA and is now facing deportation back to Mexico–a place that he has no living memory of ever knowing. Bernie wants the 1.8 million young people who qualify for DACA to experience the freedoms of this country. When he said he wants to expand that program to their parents, Cardi did a little jiggle and let out a “Yeahhh!”

Bernie is going to raise taxes to allow free healthcare and education, but it will be cheaper on a day to day for Americans.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

“People are afraid to pay more taxes than they’re already paying,” Cardi rightly stated. Bernie’s plan to offer free health care for all will ultimately be cheaper for the overwhelming majority of people than paying for premiums, deductibles, and copayments.

Cardi B will never forget how hard it was to make a living wage before she found fame.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

Cardi B brought up how “certain people like to brag” about how there are more jobs in America, but she’s questioning the quality of these jobs. Why are her followers having to work two or three jobs to survive? Bernie wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

By placing a modest tax on Wall Street, Sanders plans to cancel student debt.

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

Forty-five million Americans are living with student debt. Sanders knows that those of us in our 20s and 30s were told that we had to go to college to get a good job. Where the good jobs at? Our generation is far less likely to own homes and make financial progress in our lives. For the first time, our generation is worse off than the generation before it. 

Sanders has a message to Cardi B’s followers: “Trump doesn’t want people of color to be participating in the political process.”

Credit: @BernieSanders / Twitter

“Participate in the political process,” he tells POC. You can spend five minutes to register to vote here.

Watch the full interview below!

What do you think about Cardi B’s interview?

READ: Cardi B Claps Back At “Republicans And Conservatives” Who Want Her To Shut Up When It Comes To Politics

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