Self-described “activist athlete” and Olympian Gwen Berry, who turned her back on the American flag during the national anthem at Olympic trials over the weekend, said on Sunday that Americans frustrated with her ungrateful attitude put “patriotism over basic morality,” CBS News reported.
The American people’s reaction also taught Berry that “the commercials, statements, and phony sentiments regarding black lives [following George Floyd’s death] were just a hoax.”
Republicans pounced on her unpatriotic attitude.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, said she should not represent the American Olympic team if she cannot stand respectfully while the national anthem plays.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., agreed with Crenshaw.
“If Ms. Berry is so embarrassed by America, then there is no reason she needs to compete for our country,” he said on Fox News. “She should be removed from the Olympic team.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, asked, “Why does the Left hate America?”
Berry denied the allegations in a tweet that ended with the phrase “I love my people” and a raised black fist—a symbol of Black Supremacist ideology.
Thank you! I never said I hated this country! People try to put words in my mouth but they can’t. That’s why I speak out. I LOVE MY PEOPLE. ✊?
— Gwen Berry OLY (@MzBerryThrows) June 28, 2021
Berry finished in third place at the U.S. Olympic Trials for the women’s hammer throw and then proceeded to draw attention to herself and away from the event’s winner and runner-up.
She turned away from the flag, put on a sulky face, and draped her head with a black T-shirt that read, “Activist Athlete.”
Berry claimed that the national anthem was played as part of “a set-up.”
“They did it on purpose,” Berry told the Associated Press. “I was pissed, 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 said. “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.”
USA Track and Field spokeswoman Susan Hazzard said the national anthem plays according to a pre-published schedule and was set to play at 5:20 p.m. on Saturday.
“We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards,” Hazzard said.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, pined for earlier years when the national anthem united Americans.
“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.”