Two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton offered an endorsement on Wednesday to an 11-year-old girl for kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance, telling her to "keep up the good work."
Clinton tweeted in response to a NowThis video about Mariana Taylor, a sixth-grader at Catonsville Middle School in Baltimore County, Maryland. The video talks about how she was reprimanded by her teacher in May for kneeling in protest during the Pledge of Allegiance. Taylor, a student "with strong beliefs about racial injustice, sexism, gay rights and President Trump’s proposed wall at the Mexico border," said she was inspired to kneel by former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and his protests against racial injustice, the Washington Post reported.
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"It takes courage to exercise your right to protest injustice, especially when you’re 11! Keep up the good work Mariana," Clinton tweeted.
It takes courage to exercise your right to protest injustice, especially when you’re 11! Keep up the good work Mariana. https://t.co/vnGheuWyJ0
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 15, 2018
Taylor told the Post she began kneeling durning the pledge to "to show people that what’s going on is not okay."
The student said she was berated by her teacher on the third day of kneeling and was told she should be standing for the Pledge of Allegiance to honor the good things in America. The sixth-grader also said her teacher told her she was disrespecting the country by kneeling, noting she had family overseas, according to the Post.
"It was very upsetting that she came up and confronted me and said I was disrespecting the country," said Taylor, who left the class in tears.
The teacher at one point argued that she acted out of concern for Mariana, worrying that the girl was fixated on the nation’s problems, according to the ACLU letter. "She did not explain how this concern would lead her to reprimand Mariana for being disrespectful," the letter said.
A counselor spoke up for Mariana the day the alleged episode happened, saying she was "brave," and at another point, the teacher said she was sorry if she had misunderstood policy or been wrong to question the girl, the letter said.
The principal weighed in a few days later, first saying school system rules prohibited kneeling but later telling the family he had learned from district administrators and legal advisers that the school system had not encountered a similar situation before, according to the letter. He thought the policy may need updating, the letter said.
This is not the first time Clinton has defended kneeling. The former secretary of state castigated President Donald Trump last October in London, telling the crowd that his attacks on players kneeling during the national anthem are "very clear dog-whistles" to his base and that kneeling is a "reverent position."
"Actually, kneeling is a reverent position," Clinton said. "It was to demonstrate in a peaceful way against racism and injustice in our criminal system."
She added the protests are "not against our anthem or our flag."