On October 4, two Rancho Cucamonga residents, Matthew Brady, who is half Black, and Jiahn Talebi, who is half Iranian, decided to protest racial inequality by refusing to stand for the national anthem played at the pre-season Lakers game at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. They were assaulted by three other fans objecting to their peaceful protest.
In a recent interview in their attorney’s office in Victorville and observed by The Voice/Black Voice News, Talebi recalled the events of that evening. “At that point the anthem ends and me and Brady sit back down and the people that were sitting near our seats started cursing at us, start telling us how we’re bad people for not respecting the anthem,” Talebi remembered. “And then we had two girls throw drinks on us.”
A YouTube video of the incident, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5fz_ZAFhW8, reveals a young white woman throwing a drink and saying, “This is for the national anthem, you’re so stupid.”
“Next thing I know my whole left arm is drenched and I look over at Brady and I see that he is drenched and I turn around and I see two girls running up the stairs,” Talebi recalled. “Brady ran up the stairs, he wanted to at least get their license plates or get some type of information on them so that they would be able to get in trouble for what they’ve done.”
Upon reaching the top of the stairs, Brady recalled, a security guard asked them if they were “looking for the two girls who were running.” They answered affirmatively, and the security guard “just points and says, ‘they went that way.’” Talebi said the security guard did not call for help on his radio nor did he try to help them.
They both went outside the arena looking for the two girls when another fan overheard Talebi and Brady discussing the altercation, and became enraged. “He gets right in my face and he starts yelling at me. He said, ‘I can’t believe you disrespected the anthem.”
“Well, Brady steps in and he says, ‘Hey man back off get off of my friend.’”
“This man puts his hands around Brady’s neck and chokes him and he says ‘don’t you ever disrespect the anthem boy.’ He kept calling him boy and telling him he needs to know his place,” Talebi remembered. He further explained, “At that point, Brady puts his hands up in the air and he says, ‘No, I’m calling the police.’”
Next, Talebi recalled he and Brady being, “interrogated because of what happened even though we did nothing wrong,” while the individual who choked Brady was questioned, “for a very small amount of time” and let go.
“The whole point of not acknowledging the anthem as we were doing was because we have innocent people of color getting murdered in the streets we have people being discriminated against and people don’t seem to care,” Talebi said. “So we are trying to raise awareness to what’s going on right now and we’re not going to show respect to the anthem until this country starts showing respect to everybody in this country.”
In an interview with The Voice/Black Voice News, their attorneys, James Terrell and Sharon Brunner Terrell, described the actions of the two young ladies “who have not been identified officially” and the older bearded gentleman “who grabbed our client by the throat” as Assault and Battery. They also shared they are pursuing the identity of the other individuals as well as video-footage inside and outside the arena, police belt, and dash recordings.
Additionally, Terrell explained, “We are going to be delving into the matter of what the policy is of the Laker Games, the NBA, as well as at the arena on the First Amendment.”
“We believe that there is a possibility that the arena didn’t provide the proper security to protect our clients from being assaulted and attacked inside and outside of the arena for expressing their First Amendment right,” Attorney Sharon Brunner revealed. She further opined, had an African-American male thrown drinks on a white woman or other white patron of the event, that African-American would certainly have been treated differently. “He would have been arrested, somebody from security would have assisted in apprehending him,” Brunner reasoned objecting, “But when these girls threw these drinks on Talebi and Brady, no one assisted. The security that was there did not assist and there was more brutality that followed.”
Terrell spoke to the fact that the National Basketball Association has taken the stance in a recently issued memo that their professional basketball players are to stand for the National Anthem, depriving them of their First Amendment rights in the context of a basketball game.
“This is spreading because it’s about people being treated differently and unfairly by the police,” Terrell said. Terrell further explained that because of the NBA’s stance prohibiting players from protesting during the National Anthem, he believes “thousands of others will take a knee in the arenas and in the stadium’s stands” and he wants to “make sure that these guys weren’t treated in this way, to stop that kind of mentality.”
According to Terrell, because of this incident and subsequent conversations, he was shocked to learn that the third verse of our National Anthem is “one of the most racists things I have ever read in my life,” leading to his realization our forefathers were not “the great freedom and democracy” champions he had come to believe. “The third verse of the National Anthem, if we sang that, there would be a lot of tension, if not violence,” Terrell noted.
The National Anthem, written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, was inspired by the American victory and sight of the American flag flying above Fort M'Henry in the Battle of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland.
The third verse of the National Anthem:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Protesting the National Anthem began in 2016 when National Football League Player Colin Kaepernick sat, and later kneeled, during the National Anthem to call attention to the racial injustice and treatment of African-Americans by police officers in the United States.
Kaepernick’s protest grew, and numerous football players followed in the peaceful protest at games across the country. Additionally, Kaepernick formed the Colin Kaepernick Foundation, whose mission is to fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism.
Peacefully protesting the National Anthem became a political issue when, on September 24, President Donald Trump claimed the act was disrespectful of “our country, flag and National Anthem.” Trump has even gone so far as to suggest publicly that professional athletes who protest during the National Anthem should be fired.
In response to a request for comment from The Voice/Black Voice News, a representative of Ontario Citizen’s Bank Arena explained, “We are still conducting our own internal investigation.” Assuring, “Our number one priority is the safety and security of our guests.”
When it was publicly alleged the two young ladies were students from California Baptist University in Riverside, the university issued a statement describing the students’ behavior as “despicable” while explaining it “strongly upholds the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all under the Constitution and laws of the United States of America and does not condone or support actions or expressions in denial of those rights.”
In response to an inquiry by The Voice/Black Voice News, the Ontario Police Department Public Information Officer Jeff Higby explained, “Due to the possibility of pending litigation, we are restricted from giving much information.”
When Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman in 2012, there was a heightened awareness of African-American citizens being killed by members of law enforcement around the country, as well as a lack of prosecution of police officers, and a call for justice that gave rise to the protest movement known as Black Lives Matter.
The ongoing Black Lives Matter protests eventually led to African-American professional athletes refusing to stand during the national anthem, in support of the movement. According to its website, Black Lives Matter began four years ago when a group of individuals became “enraged by the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman.”
According to news reports, African- Americans killed by law enforcement that led to calls for action and protests include the following: in 2014—Michael Brown in Missouri, Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Ohio, Laquan McDonald in Illinois, Akai Gurley in New York, John Crawford III in Ohio. In 2015— Christian Taylor in Texas, Samuel Dubose in Ohio, Sandra Bland in Texas, Freddie Gray in Maryland, Walter Scott in South Carolina, Jamar Clark in Minnesota, Ricky Ball in Mississippi, Jeremy McDole in Delaware, William Chapman III in Virginia. In 2016—Carnell Snell Jr. in Los Angeles, Keith LaMonte Scott in North Carolina, Terrence Crutcher in Oklahoma, Philando Castille in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Paul O’Neil in Illinois, Sylville Smith in Wisconsin, Rekia Boyd in Illinois. In 2017— Jordan Edwards in Texas.