Perhaps you’ve seen this before: David Barlavi standing with his fist raised while the national anthem plays. Or his fist is raised and his other hand is over his heart while he recites the pledge of allegiance.
He did this again at a recent water board meeting, but he said he’s been doing this for a few years now, inspired by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think everybody should be doing it,” the attorney and Saugus Unified School District board member said. “We need to hold our law enforcement officers to a much higher standard, and everybody needs to be on board with that. It’s not only good for civilians, but it’s good for police departments to make sure that they have the right training and the right attitude to make sure they’re not violating people’s rights in any way, especially in a disparate way with people of color.”
Kaepernick originally sat during the anthem, starting with the third game of the 49ers’ 2016 season, to protest racial injustice and oppression. The next week, he started kneeling.
He hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016, but actions sparked a wider protest movement that intensified after President Trump suggested owners fire players who protested during the anthem.
Black Lives Matter predates Kaepernick’s kneeling by three years, beginning on social media after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin in the Miami area. It became nationally recognized from people demonstrating against the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York.
Barlavi, who is white, said he has never received a negative reaction to his protest, and also said he has not reached out to Kaepernick.
He added there is a practical reason to his fist raise.
“I’m too old to kneel,” he said with a laugh.