Gwen Berry defends herself after turning away from flag: ‘People rally patriotism over basic morality’

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Gwendolyn Berry celebrates finishing third in the Women's Hammer Throw final  (Getty Images)
Gwendolyn Berry celebrates finishing third in the Women's Hammer Throw final (Getty Images)

Gwen Berry has defended herself against criticism from conservatives, including members of Congress, after she turned away on the podium during the national anthem.

The US hammer thrower prompted controversy after she turned away from the US flag as the national anthem played at the Olympic Trials on Saturday.

The star took to Twitter to defend her decision, saying that “comments” from people criticising her actions “really show” that “people in American rally patriotism over basic morality”.

“Even after the murder of George Floyd and so many others; the commercials, statements, and phony sentiments regarding black lives were just a hoax,” she said.

During the ceremony, winner DeAnna Price and runner-up Brooke Andersen faced the flags in the Oregon stadium and placed a hand on their hearts during the anthem.

A number of Republican lawmakers lashed out at Berry following the ceremony. Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw called for her to be removed from the team.

“Why does the Left hate America?” Florida Senator Texas Ted Cruz said in a tweet alongside an article covering Berry facing away from the flag.

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After Berry’s follow-up post on Twitter, a number of social media users spoke out in support of the athlete.

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“The same people who support the seditious traitors spreading election lies and undermining our democracy are pissed at Olympian Gwen Berry because she turned away from the flag instead of beating cops to death with it,” one user tweeted.

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“Really? People are losing their s*** about Gwen Berry turning away from the flag at the Olympic trials during the National Anthem,” another posted alongside an image from the 6 January insurrection.

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“I’m horrified by the comments on your posts. I’m new to your support team and proud to be here to back you. Keep up the good work Gwen!” one supporter commented.

Others noted that they applauded Berry for “sticking to her convictions” calling her “impressive” and “brave”.

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Berry, who has often used her platform as an athlete to speak out against systemic racism, said after the Olympic Trials that the anthem had been a “set-up” calling it disrespectful.

She said: “I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose. I was pissed, to be honest. They had enough opportunities to play the national anthem before we got up there.”

“I was thinking about what I should do. Eventually I stayed there and I swayed, I put my shirt over my head,” she added, referring to a t-shirt that read “Activist Athlete”.

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